About 40 percent of arable lands in illegal mining areas has become polluted and unsuitable for food production, Dr. J. O. Fenning, Director of the Soil Research Institute (SRI), has announced.
He said the situation was even more disturbing in the Western Region, where 70 per cent of lands in mining (galamsey) communities cannot support food production.
He added that in excess of 18, 600,000 hectares of land in Ghana had been found to contain iron-pan (petroplinthite), which made it difficult for food and cash crops to produce the required yield.
He made this known, when the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, toured the Institute, in Kumasi.
The Minister has been visiting Institutes under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in the Ashanti Region, to acquaint himself with their operations and the challenges.
Dr. Fenning pointed out that the soil played important role in food production and therefore the need to identify soil types suitable for the growth and production of each food or cash crop, to derive maximum per hectare yield.
It was also important to identify the kind of fertilizer suitable for each soil.
He said the inability of farmers and investors to do this was a contributory factor to the low crop yield.
He spoke of the need to increase fertilizer application in the country from the current eight kilograms per hectare, which, he said was too low, to boost crop yield and food security.
He hinted of the development of a number of technologies including “biochar” and “sawah” by the SRI to improve soil condition and fertility.
Prof Frimpong Boateng made a strong case for the utilization of scientific knowledge, technologies and innovations, to drive the nation’s development.
He pledged the government’s resolve to ensure optimal use of technologies developed by scientists in the CSIR institutes.