The University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Umuagwo, Imo State, has marked this year’s World Soil Day in style. This was in furtherance of the policy of the Institution under its Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Christopher Eze, to domesticate the celebration of days recognized by the United Nations to mark events related to Agriculture and Environment.

This year the University marked World Soil Day with a roadshow to sensitize the public on the importance of soil and the dangers inherent in degrading the soil. The climax of the activities lined up to mark the day was a public lecture presented at the Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies of the University.

In his keynote address at the public lecture last Tuesday, the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Christopher Eze maintained that soil is a critical factor in the biosphere which must be taken seriously for the environment to be conducive for agriculture.

In his words, “Soil is a critical piece of the natural systems. Human health is sustained through the soil on which food is produced. Indeed, it is estimated that over 97% of food comes from the soil. Essentially, soil provides the physical support, nutrients and water for plants. The soil is home to numerous species of mammals, reptiles, invertebrates, bacteria and fungi. Thus, the soil is a controlling factor of a myriad of plant communities across landscapes. Similarly, soil controls or regulates water from rain and snow water into ground water and streams.”

The Vice-Chancellor called on all stakeholders to guard against soil degradation by ensuring that waste disposal is well managed, oil leakage is ended and application of inorganic fertilizer is minimized. Prof. Eze also called for an end to the incessant use of plastic materials to choke the environment, calling for stakeholders to instead devise a means of recycling the material.

Meanwhile, the guest lecturer at the public lecture, Prof. Emmanuel Onweremadu who is also the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture at the University sees the relationship between soil and water as critical, in view of the theme of this year’s World Soil Day, “Soil and Water: A Source of Life.

In Onweremadu’s view: “ The interaction between soil and water has been one that requires deep-thinking. Soil and water are inseparable allies, hand –in- glove with each other acting as the fundamental cornerstones for sustaining life on the biosphere. Soil and water remain the lifeblood of our planet, supporting food production, the diversity of ecosystems, and contributing to human well-being. For humanity to be comfortable on the planet earth, we need healthy soil and clean water.”

The guest lecturer therefore called on policy makers to make legislations that will promote effective soil management: “All stakeholders should rise to promote policies that prevent thoughtless use of soil and water. Now that African agriculture is largely soil-based, effort should be made to prevent nutrient mining. Policies favouring research and adoption of soilless agriculture should be encouraged. Environmental Impact Assessment must be conducted prior to establishment of any large project. Soil test should be made compulsory especially for those in commercial land use.”

It will be recalled that the Vice-Chancellor was earlier that day hosted by the IBC-Orient FM in its morning show where he enlightened the public on ways to meaningfully contribute to soil vitality and environmental security for sustainable food security.

A news-talk authored by the Vice-Chancellor was also read the following day at the radio station as a way of sustaining public awareness on the significance of the World Soil Day.