Global Soil Partnership

Strengthening soil analysis for evidence-based decision-making in Liberia

Monrovia - As 33% of the world’s soil is degraded, soil information for sustainable agriculture and land use planning are critical to ensuring the use of land resources does not harm the productivity and the health of the soil, but to contribute to a sustainable and food-secure world.


The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) conducted series of trainings on soil analysis at the laboratory located at the Fendell Campus of the University of Liberia. With technical assistance from the British Geological Survey (BGS), the first training was conducted  28 January to 10 February and the second phase from 10 to 23 May 2023.

The trainings wtere aimed at capacitating soil technicians on equipment standardization and calibration for soil analysis, analysis of the chemical and physical properties of soil samples, the interpretation of the results, and laboratory reporting. The laboratory protocols on quality assurance and quality control were also part of the training topics.

A total of 15 technicians from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI), and the University of Liberia (UL) participated in the trainings and learned both from the theory and hands-on sessions. Throughout the training, they also familiarized themselves with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for soil analysis, which were developed under the project. 

“The comprehensive trainings provided by BGS and FAO ensures the technicians from the three different institutions to have the necessary skills and depth of understanding to establish the laboratory that can undertake analysis,” said Charles J B Gowing, Senior Analytical Geochemist at BGS, who led the training.  

He also stressed the importance of conducting the soil analysis training at the local laboratory. “Carrying out that analysis in their own laboratories means that they themselves have control of the data quality during the analysis and can provide the comparable data going forward. Furthermore, this in-person training is very effective, as we directly receive real time feedback from the participants and give them the skills for them to solve the problem by themselves.”

“Through the trainings this year, we learned quality management and control in the laboratory which I was never part of before. As we, at MOA, do not have a practical soil laboratory, it was from here that I got to know how to analyze soil content, use equipment and write SOP that I have never done before,” said Serena Sakamah, a training participant from MOA’s Land Development and Water Resource Management Division. “Doing this analysis and putting it into the information system is important for the country. There is no soil data available, nobody can find what we are doing what kind of soil Liberia has. Such information is very important for anyone who wants to invest in agriculture and in soil.”

“I have been involved in teaching of the theoretical aspect of soils at the university where I have employed as technician in the past 11 years. But I have never done soil classification before. I was able to be part of the team under this FAO project to gather soil data in Nimba County last July and assess it. Now I have the ability to lead the team to go and collect data and classify the soil,” said Rina Kokeh Nuah from University of Liberia. “At the laboratory training, they also taught us how to manage the laboratory and how to present ourselves in the laboratory to save ourselves and the environment.”

Gelboikai Abu Keita, the project coordinator at FAO, sees the need for continuing of the training with a Training of Trainers (ToT) approach and a comprehensive institutional structure for the sustainability of the lab. With more support and funding we hope to support other labs nationwide.

The series of trainings is part of the FAO’s technical cooperation project to enhance the country’s evidence-based decision-making in the agriculture and land-use sector, implemented with technical support from Global Soil Partnerships (GSP). The capacity development of the government and lab staff makes up the key part of the efforts in filling the capacity gap of the country’s soil data collection and management, contributing the sustainable soil management and land use in Liberia. 

About the Project

Under the project "Strengthening soil analysis and information systems to enhance sustainable soil management and support evidence based decision making in Liberia" (2021-2023), the sample soils from 47 profile locations in Nimba County were collected and are being analyzed. The soil data from the laboratory results will be integrated into the Liberia Soil Information System (LibSIS), which is the country’s first digital soil information system to be launched in the coming months under the project.

The project anticipates the scale-up for a nation-wide soil data collection and mapping which will contribute to the availability of comprehensive soil data informing the country’s agriculture and land-use planning and decision-making.

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