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Soil degradation, a threat to food security

Food  insecurity is looming following continued soil degradation in the country’s food basket areas.

Soil scientists are now calling for urgent measures to address soil fertility, warning of an acute food shortage as being evidenced by low food production in most parts of the country.

The revelation came on Tuesday, during the opening of the annual Soil Science Society of East Africa (SSSEA) Conference that brought together more than 200 delegates from the region at the Lake Naivasha Country Club.

The  Kenya  Market  Trust representative, Charles  Warria  said the future of the country’s food basket was uncertain owing to over-utilization of soil that has now lost its nutrients, citing western region as the most affected.

Warria  further said that soil was literally dying with its organic matter already washed away resulting to dwindling food production that could now not feed Kenya’s growing population.

He blamed population explosion and growing of same crops over long period of time as the major factors that have affected soil fertility in agricultural areas of the country.

“This is not a laughing matter because very soon we will be overtaken by our neighbours, whose good use of soil has made them food sufficient,” he said.

Warria however, said lime manufacturers were willing to come on board by providing agricultural lime that would boost soil fertility as a means of improving on its quality and called on farmers to cooperate with the manufacturers.

He said it has been discovered that when lime is mixed with fertilizers, it promotes the quality of soil as opposed to normal use of DAP.

The Director of Agricultural Research in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Oscar Magenya said the government had put in place several measures to address soil health, adding that they were promoting and disseminating soil knowledge, information and technologies (KIT) through Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D) at all levels.

He added that the government was also strengthening and building capacity of soil institutions at all levels, promoting public and governmental awareness of the importance of managing soil and related resources.

The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Director General, Dr. Eliud Kireger said the increasing land degradation, impacts of climate change, drought and desertification were to blame for low productivity of arable lands and ecosystem services.

The  Nakuru County Chief Executive for Agriculture, Dr. Immaculate Maina said the county was working with several research institutions, including Egerton University, Baraka Agricultural College and KALRO in a bid to address the quality of soil in the county so as to help improve food production in the area.

By  Esther  Mwangi/Brian Kamau

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