Vol. 1, No 2, October – December, 2004
“THE ENVIRONMENT IN AGRICULTURE”
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS BY THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
There is no doubt that agriculture is a key sector that has a critical role in dealing with environmental conservation issues. The concern of the environmentalist on how industrial wastes are treated before being discharged into the environment should be balanced by the concern for the fate of the environment in agriculture. Throughout the world, the soil and water bodies are grossly exploited in agriculture, all for the sake of providing food to feed the teeming human population which according to reports will reach eight billion in the next twenty five years.
The first effort by the Editor in Chief of this Journal was in 1998 when he published the first volume of a book titled “Strategies and Tactics of Sustainable Agriculture in the Tropics” (STASAT). In this book which actually metamorphosed into this Journal, he drew global attention to the multiple problems militating against achieving sustainability in tropical ecosystems. In this collection of 15 chapters written by experts drawn from all over the world, the inherent problems of tropical soils were exposed, the inability of the “Green Revolution” of the 1970s and 1980s in achieving sustainability in tropical systems was established and the need to pay more attention to ecologically sound systems of agriculture was emphasized. In addition, a case was established through sound logical reasoning that the concept of sustainability in agriculture which implies that the soil can provide nutrients ad infinitum through environmentally friendly agricultural practices is realisable.
The recently published Volume 2 of the book further exposed the fragile nature of tropical soils by providing empirical data from research conducted in Africa, South America and Asia. The elements of sustainability in ecologically sound agricultural practices and systems were revealed through painstaking research efforts. Administrative bottlenecks that continuously militate against the achievement of the desired goals in agriculture were also highlighted. Thus, these two Volumes have increased awareness not only within researchers but also among government officials on the need to emphasise the elements of sustainability into our decision making processes when formulating agricultural policy. I believe that those volumes of STASAT did provide inspirations to agricultural researchers who I am told submitted about 60 percent of the articles submitted for the publication of this Journal – Environtropica in the first year of operation. It is not surprising therefore that the Editorial Board of Environtropica has decided to dedicate the second number of the first volume of the Journal to Agriculture.
For as long as man continues to live, the demand for food will continue to be a key issue. The more the population of humans on earth, the more the quantity of food that will be required. It therefore makes sense to be wary of agricultural practices that will pollute our soils and water bodies and in addition remove the essential nutrients required for high productivity.
The only way to make progress in this direction is for policy makers to have easy access to research findings in areas of similar climate and overall environmental conditions. This gap will surely be filled by this new Journal which is international in outlook and operation.
I salute the international Editorial Board of Environtropica and thank them for a job well done not only on this successful outing but also for dedicating one of the two numbers of the maiden issue to ‘The Environment in Agriculture’.