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Salinity-induced soil degradation claims $27.3 billion yearly

By Guardian Nigeria
06 December 2021   |   3:20 am
The Soil Science Society of Nigeria (SSSN), yesterday, said some $27.3 billion was being lost yearly to salinity-induced soil degradation globally.

Soil degradation. Photo: NATEMS

The Soil Science Society of Nigeria (SSSN), yesterday, said some $27.3 billion was being lost yearly to salinity-induced soil degradation globally.

SSSN President, Prof. Bashiru Raji, represented by his deputy, Prof. Damician Asawalam, made the disclosure in Abuja at a press briefing organised by the group to mark this year’s World Soil Day (WSD).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that at its 68th General Assembly in 2013, the United Nations designated December 5 of every year as WSD following the recommendation by the International Union of Soil Science (IUSS) in 2002.

It also reports that the theme for this year’s celebration is “Halt Soil Salinisation, Boost Soil Productivity.” Raji described soil salinisation as a major land degradation process that reduces soil fertility and promotes desertification processes in dry land areas.

He equally described salinity as a situation where salt accumulates in the root zone of crop plants and adversely affects crop growth and yield.
“Salinity is a growing problem around the globe, especially in soils of the semi-arid and arid regions.

“Excess salt in the root zone of crops plants disperses soil aggregates, making it difficult for plant roots to extract water and nutrients from the soil,” he added.

The SSSN chief went on: “The World Bank estimates that soil salinisation due to inappropriate irrigation practices affects about 60 million hectares of land.

“Salinisation accounts for 50 per cent of irrigated land in Africa, almost 35 per cent of the agricultural land in Egypt, and is a growing problem in India, Pakistan, China and Central Asia.

“The yearly cost in crop production loss due to salinity-induced soil degradation is estimated at $27.3 billion.”
He said states like Nasarawa, Kano and Kebbi might experience the problem. Raji, who called for urgent action against soil salinisation, said his organisation had joined the rest of the world to call for conscious actions to limit the expansion of saline soils.

“With this theme, soil scientists all over the world are calling on governments, organisations, communities and individuals around the world to commit proactively to maintaining healthy ecosystem and improving soil health by conscious actions to limit soil salinisation,” he explained.

The don, who said human life is organically linked to the soil, stressed that whatever reduces the productive potential of the soil diminishes human welfare.
“Therefore, soil salinisation must be halted to boost soil productivity,” he said. He advocated the adoption of sustainable farming systems adapted to saline and sodic environments, while encouraging people to avoid unsustainable practices that could lead to soil salinisation.

Raji, who noted that SSSN had celebrated WSD from its inception in 2014, said the society “joins the rest of the global community to celebrate the soil that is our source and sustenance.”