International Year of Soils: The Younger Generations also deserve to hear the good news

Team members and some students after the IYS awareness at Modakeke High School, Modakeke, Osun State. Photo: Olaoye Rasaq

Since the declaration of 2015 as the International Year of Soils (IYS) by the 68th UN General Assembly, several activities have been proposed and carried out by relevant bodies to mark the IYS. These bodies include international organizations like the International Union of Soil Science (IUSS), national societies, such as the Soil Science Society of Nigeria (SSSN) and local bodies like Departments of Soil Science in the various Universities and Colleges around the world.

From the activities organized so far, it's clear that most of these initiatives are aimed at older generations, giving less attention to our youth.  From a certain point of view, this is justifiable since most farmers today are of a certain age. However, it is important to note that conserving the soil for sustainability depends on the integrated outcome of every individual contribution. With a fast growing global population and more mouths to feed, there is an urgent need for us to start putting efforts into “raising new generations of farmers”, equipped with the necessary knowledge and expertise.  The “role of soil” is fundamental in this respect. It must also be noted that sooner or later the present generations of farmers will be replaced by the younger ones; timely education and training can go a long way in improving the  knowledge and practices of our future farmers.

It is precisely for these reasons that myself and some other students, also in the Department of Soil Science and Land Resources Management of Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria), decided to come together to form a team and embark on the mission of taking this good news of the International Year of Soils to Secondary Schools in south westerm Nigeria. The major objective of the team is to enlighten these young men and women about the crucial role soil plays in food security and sustainable development. We tell them about the IYS and the reasons behind it, we explain what healthy soils are and why they are important, we point out the consequences of soil degradation, and finally what role they can play in preserving the soil. During these visits, we make use of charts and images to make the subject more appealing and comprehensible to the students. After the short talks, we give room for questions, and it's really amazing to witness how these young students are willing to find out more about soils and what they can do to help to conserve them.

The three schools that we visited are within Osun State, south western Nigeria, and they include: The Apostolic High School, Modakeke, Osun State; Adventist High School, Ile Ife, Osun State; and Modakeke High School, Modakeke, Osun State. We are grateful to the authorities of these schools for giving us the opportunity to speak to their students and the Management of the Department of Soil Science and Land Resources Management for their encouragement. We also thank the Soil Science Science of Nigeria (SSSN) Obafemi Awolowo University Chapter for their support.

It's clear that younger generations need to hear and share the good news about the importance of healthy soils and how they can be safeguarded. It is up to stakeholders and relevant bodies in the field to ensure that this message gets across to our youth. Making sure that relevant bodies understand the importance of this and including youth in the planning stages of subsequent programmes is key to our sustainable future.

Dahunsi Juwonlo E.

Team Leader and Students of Department of Soil Science and Land Resources Management

Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State.

[email protected]


Other Members of the Team are:

1.      Abdulraman Olaide A. 

2.      Azeez Isiaka Adebayo             

3.      Olaniyan Tolulope Esther

4.      Olaoye Rasaq

Spreading the good news of IYS to the younger generations. Photo: Abdulrahman Olaide
Team members and some of the students after the IYS awareness at Adventist High School, Ile Ife, Osun State. Photo: Dahunsi Dunsin

The views expressed here belong to the speaker and do not necessarily represent FAO’s views, positions, strategies or opinions

Submitted by Dahinsi Juwonlo


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The International Year of Soils is a global initiative that aims to raise awareness about the importance of soil health and promote sustainable soil management practices. While this initiative is targeted towards adults and professionals in the agriculture and environmental sectors, it is also important for younger generations to understand the significance of soil health and how it affects our planet.

It is essential to engage younger generations in this initiative to ensure that they are aware of the importance of soil health and how it affects their daily lives. Soil is the foundation of our food system and plays a critical role in mitigating climate change. By educating children and young adults about soil health, we can help them develop a deeper understanding of the environment and the importance of sustainable practices.

One way to engage younger generations in this initiative is to incorporate soil health education into school curriculums. Teachers can include lessons and activities that focus on soil health and the importance of sustainable soil management practices. This can help children and young adults develop a sense of responsibility for the environment and encourage them to take action to protect it.

Another way to engage younger generations is through community outreach programs. Organizations and institutions can organize events and workshops that focus on soil health and sustainable soil management practices. This can help children and young adults learn about soil health in a fun and interactive way, and encourage them to get involved in environmental initiatives.
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