How depletion in natural resources is affecting farming, others

Depletion in soil fertility is affecting yields returns for farmers
  • …as RMRDC moves to safe nation’s resources

The level of micronutrients in most of the Nigerian soils are said to be generally low, hindering high yields for farmers, a document from the Raw Material Research Development Council, (RMRDC) has shown.

The document seen by Daily Trust on Sunday quoted several studies saying the nation’s soils are low in nitrogen, phosphorous and high in potassium contents, which are the major reasons why they are cultivated without significant crop returns.


The Director General of the Council, Dr. Ibrahim Hussaini Doko, regretted that soil fertility is one of the major resources that are depleting in Nigeria, which according to him have dire consequences on the farmers, especially those into commercial farming.

According to him, most Nigerian soils are generally light textured and low in cation exchange capacity (CEC) with a clay content that range from 9 to 43% in more than 60% of Nigeria’s landscape.


He pointed out that lack of good soil management practices by farmers, climatic and environmental factors have had serious deleterious effect on Nigeria’s soils, adding that much of Nigeria’s land is being degraded as a result of intensification of land use for agricultural production, which is necessary to satisfy increased food demands.

Agricultural production in most cases, he said, is practiced without the adoption of proper management practices and external inputs.

‘’Overtime, the analysis of crop production and nutrient depletion estimates indicated that agricultural production in Africa had been stagnant or declining with soils losing high amounts of nutrients,’’ he explained.

According to him, the coastal areas of Nigeria and small patches in the semi-arid belt of Northern Nigeria are affected heavily by soil salinity, which reduces agricultural productivity, especially of crops that are sensitive throughout the ontogeny of the plant.

The DG in the document noted that flooding is another major problem that is fast becoming chronic with respect to soil depletion in Nigeria. Flooding occurs in Nigeria in three main forms mainly coastal, river and urban floodings

‘’Our experience in year 2012 is particularly devastating as flood washed away several farmlands in 20 States of the Federation. Closely allied with this, is desert encroachment.  Nigeria is presently losing about 351, of its landmass to desert formation which is advancing southward at the rate of 0.6km per year.  Entire villages and major access roads have been buried under sand dunes in the northern portions of Katsina, Sokoto, Jigawa and Borno States.  You may also wish to note that between 1972 – 1978, Borno State suffered a protracted drought, making it one of the most threatened land areas in Nigeria,’’ he explained.

In the DG’s opinion, overcoming the problems that lead to degradation requires a good understanding of interplay among biophysical, agro climatic, economic and human factors that determine the management of natural resources and prevailing farming systems.  Overtime, the analysis of crop production and nutrient depletion estimates indicated that agricultural production in Africa had been stagnant or declining with soils losing high amounts of nutrients.


Reason freshwater is fast depleting in Nigeria

Another major resource that is fast depleting in Nigeria is the freshwater.  According to Dr Ibrahim Doko, the issue of groundwater became prominent when global water consumption increased by nearly 100% within a space of 50 years (1950 – 2000), mainly as a consequence of agricultural irrigation which is responsible for the use of 70% of all freshwater including groundwater.

He said even though Nigeria as a whole is rich in surface water resources, it is deficient in groundwater resources.  This is because extensive area of the country is covered by crystalline rocks of the basement complex which are poor aquifers.  He said these rocks cover about 50% of the country but at present contribute little to underground water supply.

‘’As a result and due to rapidly increasing population in Nigeria, which has tripled within 50 years (1960 – 2010), the population directly impact on demand for water. In most cases, the highest demand for water arises from municipal water supply, industries and agriculture,’’ he noted.

This development, according to him has made it necessary for us to worry as Nigeria has experienced earth tremors several times. In the Federal Capital Territory in 2018, earth tremors were experienced in Mpape, Maitama and a few other locations.  It has also been reported in Kwoi, Kaduna State, Saki in Oyo State and Ibgogene in Bayelsa State as a result of overdependence on aquifers.


Nigeria losing aquatic animals to environmental pollution

The situation in inland waters in Nigeria is also the same.  Significant reductions in the availability of various species of aquatic animals have been reported as a result of environmental pollution and other human activities, said Dr. Hussaini Ibrahim.

Statistics indicated that fish production in 1980’s was less than half of the 1950’s and fish catching production was only a quarter of that in the 1960’s.  In Nigeria, artisanal inland fisheries do not only serve as an important alternative source of animal protein, but also crucial to the economy, contributing about 5% of the GDP.

Among the problems contributing to low development of these sector are unsustainable fisheries practices in Nigeria which are threatening the fish stock through overfishing or threatening the environment the fish need to thrive.  This is being done through electrofishing, use of gears with small mesh sizes, poisons, dynamite fishing, etc.  Overfishing also occurs when more fishes are caught than the population can replace through natural reproduction, destructive fishing practices which is the use of fish gears in ways or places such that one or more key components of the ecosystem are obliterated, devastated or ceases to be able to provide essential ecosystem functions.


Why we should be concern about deforestation

The RMRDC DG said deforestation is one of the major factors depleting the world’s natural resources, both directly and indirectly.  It impacts negatively directly on the forest resources itself and indirectly on the environment, on resources such as water, soil, flooding and quality of air in an environment.  Although, forests are renewable resources, unsustainable management practices including poverty have made most of the world’s primary forests, a fast depleting resource.  Deforestation has negative implication for sustainable economic development and has impacted negatively on social aspect of countries, specifically regarding economic issues, agriculture, conflict and most importantly, the quality of life.  This is so as the world’s forests provide a wide array of goods and services, many of which are of global significance.


He said available statistics indicated that Nigeria has the highest rate of deforestation in the world, having lost 55.7% of its primary forests.  The annual rate of deforestation in Nigeria is 3.5%, approximately 350,000 – 400,000 per annum.


RMRDC’s plans on natural resources depletion

Dr, Ibrahim said in line with RMRDC’s mandate, the Council has initiated plans to carry out in-depth studies of natural resources depletion in the country and to put in place necessary ameliorating measures.

Among the line of actions being planned by the Council to put natural resources development in Nigeria on sustainable path include the gathering of adequate data on the present state of various natural resources in Nigeria, adding that urgent measures are being planned on soil depletion.

‘’This will be taken as a very serious issue in the country in view of our high dependence on agricultural production and productivity locally. The Council will collaborate with Federal Ministry of Agriculture and research institutions with requisite mandates to carry out soil fertility studies all over Nigeria soils with the primary objective to replenish the soils and recommend appropriate management practices for soils in various ecological zones,’’ the Dg said.

He said the Council will make appropriate recommendations to authorities on the issue of groundwater resources management and the issues of land grabs by other countries.

‘’Presently, available data on forest resource in Nigeria and the national biodiversity data are too old for any meaningful planning. Thus, there is need for concerted efforts by the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with RMRDC to initiate new development plans for Nigeria’s forest resources. As at present, wood is being exported while concerted efforts on regeneration are too slow and weak. Efforts would be made to compartmentalize the forest resources and areas outside them for sustainable development of both economic, non-economic and non-timber forest products,’’ he said.

The DG noted that data on Nigerian fisheries resources is also old. In view of its role in food security and industrial development, new concerns would be raised about the depletion of both freshwater and ocean fisheries in Nigeria. He said, ‘’new initiatives are taking place globally on fisheries development and Nigeria cannot afford to lose its priced fishes to depletion at this stage of its development. Issues such as overfishing in both water bodies should be addressed at both local and global levels by agencies such as NIMASA and the Institute of Oceanography in collaboration with the fisheries department of the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development.’’

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