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Published On: Fri, Nov 24th, 2023

Maiden “Week of Soil” public awareness campaign underway in Gambia

The Soil Solution, a Non-Governmental Organization (NG0) has Thursday, 23rd November kicked off its maiden public awareness campaign called “Week of Soil.”  

The week-long campaign began with a press conference held yesterday at the Department of Soil and Water Management Services office in Yundum.

The campaign is aimed to raise public awareness on soil health and management and to ensure the soil fertility is maintained.

The week-long events will proceed today Friday 24th to 26th November with a community and radio sensitization programs which includes the Fonni Community Radio, North Bank Region Community radio and national radio station.

The week-events will also be held through TV panel discussions on the challenges and recommendations on soils in the Gambia and beyond, likewise the works that have been done on soils during the 2023 rainy season.

This would be wrapped up through a day-long symposium with experts in the field of agriculture to be held at the Gambia College main hall in Brikama on 28th November.

Speaking at the press conference, Ebrima Senghore, The Soil Solution (NGO) operations officer revealed that “The Soil Solution” NGO is an organization in the Gambia with its mission “to protect and make available sustainable soils that physically support plants with adequate nutrients and water supply.”

He said this done with support from the United States government through the Citizen Diplomacy and Action Fund (CDAF).

He further stated that it is in partnership with the technical unit of the Department of Agriculture, the Soil and Water Management Services, the Regional Agricultural Directorate of West Coast Region and the Gambia College School of Agriculture.

He revealed that the Gambia College will be the host for the first of its kind “Week of Soil.”

He advanced that the week-long activities is also aimed at raising awareness about sustainable agriculture practices and the significance of soil health.

“The events include a variety of activities to educate people about soil conservation and management and we will be engaging many stakeholders, such as media partners, farmers, government officials, local authorities and schools to promote soil health and conservation during these days,” he told journalists.

He concludes with optimism that this will help them build support and momentum for their efforts.

For his part, Ebrima Jarra, the Executive Director of The Soil Solution (NGO), he said that the Week of Soil activities is aimed at promoting soil health and conservation.

He added that the week is dedicated to celebrate the actions of various organizations and individuals around the country and to raise awareness about the importance of soil and its role in sustaining life on Earth.

Mr. Jarra said that soil health is a vital resource that support plant growth and provides essential nutrients for human and animal life. Adding that it also plays a crucial role in regulating the Earth’s climate and water cycle.

However, he alerts that soil health is been threatened by various factors, such as deforestation, urbanization and intensive agriculture practices.

Jarra further told journalists that through their current engagements with communities and public decision makers, he said that some of the ways they were doing include the successful implementation of a research project on improving soil health with oyster industrial waste in the West Coast Region in the 2023 rainy season.

He said in this research, farmers who were involved in the research were prohibited from the use of chemical fertilizers or any foreign substance on the research fields. He added that only oyster shells were used to improve the productivity of groundnuts.

He advanced that their plan is to establish sample or model farms where people can come and learn the real practice of sustainable soil management. To establish a vocational school that will graduate real soil experts that will cop the wide spread of soil degradation and lost.

He said their plans include to make quality soil informational available and accessible to all and to ensure that the last hungry Gambian knows and finds it easy to produce food.

He said that “our solutions are locally-led as we believe that the use of Oyster Shells which has a large amount of calcium in it can solve that lack of calcium in the soil, replace the NPK fertilizer and even neutralize the acid in the soil.”

“To build capacity and raising the understanding of farmers has allowed them to make informed decisions on how best to manage their soils,” he concluded.

Other speakers include Mustapha Drammeh, the Director of Regional Agricultural Directorate, West Coast Region and Abdou Rahman Jobe, Director-Soil and Water Management Services, under the Department of Agriculture among others. 

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