By Fatou Dahaba
Ebrima Jarra, Executive Director of The Soil Solution Gambia, said statistics have strongly suggested that Gambian Soil is losing its neutrality as agricultural production scales for farmers are decreasing.
Mr. Jarra made these remarks during a press conference on Thursday at the Department of Soil and Water Management Services conference hall, Yundum.
He said there is a need to put efforts together and ensure the soil regained its neutrality by raising public awareness on soil health and management to maintain soil fertility.
“The significance of soil health cannot be overstated, as it is a vital resource that supports plant growth and provides essential nutrients for human and animal life. It also plays a crucial role in regulating the Earth’s climate and water cycle. However, soil health is threatened by various factors such as deforestation, urbanization, intensive agriculture practices, and sometimes by real estate developers,” he said.
Mr. Jarra disclosed his organization’s mission: to protect and make suitable soils that physically and structurally support plants with adequate nutrients and water.
He explained that there are plans to achieve their mission of improving soil health with oyster industrial waste in the West Coast Region in the 2023 rainy season.
“Pilot of the Soil Doctors Programme is a farmer-to-farmer training initiative that aims to build the capacity of farmers on sustainable soil management while supporting national governments and stakeholders in addressing the needs of their rural communities.
It is an intergenerational-revolutionary program that has the power to begin to transform how farmers and many stakeholders often see soils, as most of us see soils as an object which we trample on, and that’s it.”
Dilating on Relevance and Soil Sustainability in the Gambia, Mr. Abdou Rahman Jobe, Director of Soil and Water Management Services Department of Agriculture, said soil is the most relevant aspect of agriculture.
“Often people intend to forget the importance of the soil in agricultural production and focus more on inputs like fertilizer, good seeds, but you will realize that without soil, agricultural production will not be possible or very limited.”
He stated that toxic elements that affect the soil directly affect the plants grown in the soil.
“It is important to take care of the soil sustainably, not in ways that will be hazardous to plants and the environment.”
The Week of Soil is meant to enlighten the public on soil health, the importance of soil, and its role in sustaining life.