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World Soil Day Celebrations at Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad

Soil is one of the four pillars alongside water, air and light, upon which the structure of life is built up. FAO has declared 5th December as World Soil Day. It’s celebrated all around the globe to convey a message regarding the importance of soil every year. Being Pakistan’s top ranked university, QAU also gives special attention to this day as soil studies are not only important components of its curricular and co-curricular activities but also to obey a moral obligation.

Keeping in mind the theme of 2021 Soil Day Celebration “Halt Soil Salinization, Boost Soil Productivity”, Department of Plant Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University in collaboration with Office of Research Innovation and Commercialization (ORIC), and PASTIC organized one day symposium on December 7th 2021, where Soil Scientists from Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), PMAS Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad gave talks to the faculty and students. Students presented various models and posters showing how to Halt Salinization and pollution of soil.

Chief Organizers of the event Dr Shujaul Mulk Khan, Associate Professor of Plant Sciences gave a brief introduction to the event, history of the World Soil Day, and importance of Soil in relation to biodiversity. He further explained that International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002 under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership started to celebrate this day. Later on the FAO Conference 2013, unanimously endorsed the 5th December as World Soil Day and then approved by the 68th UN General Assembly in December 2013 by designating 5th December 2014 as the first official WSD.  FAO has been supporting the WSD as a global awareness raising platform for all the stakeholders since then, formally.

Key Note Speakers of the event Dr Tariq Sultan and Dr. Shahzada Sohail Ijaz emphasized on the motive of the day to raise awareness about maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being, by pointing out the dangers of soil salinity. Soil salinization and sodification are major soil deterioration processes threatening ecosystems and are recognized as among the most important problems at a global level for agricultural production, food security and sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions. He also acknowledged the efforts of Dr Hazirullah Director ORICS and his team and Dr Maryam PASTIC National Centre for their active collaboration with Plant Sciences to organize the event.

Prof Dr Safia Ahmed, Dean Faculty of Biological Sciences and Dr Mushtaq Ahmad chairman Department of Plant Sciences asked the participants to raise awareness about the importance of mother soil by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil salinization, and encouraging masses of the society to improve soil health and productivity.

Prof Dr Muhammad Ali Vice Chancellor focused his addressed on the importance of the day as well as overall co-curricular activities of the No. 1 University of the country, the QAU. He gave resemblance of a teacher and researcher with Tower of light who enlighten the youngster with knowledge and wisdom to accept the modern world’s challenges and bring positivity in the society. He said that without soil, the ever-growing population will remain underfed since plants won’t have any space to grow. World Soil Day demands recognition and support for the management of soil along with its sustainable utilization. The day aims for proper maintenance and care of soil all over the globe.

Event ended with distribution of shields among the position holders of posters competition, speakers and organizers followed by awareness walk. More than 300 participants attended the ceremony.