April 2011

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Each territory within the Caribbean should set up a land use and land capability authority and should develop “realistic land capability classification on the basis of which decisions on rational land use must be based,” writes the eminent soil scientist, Prof Nazeer Ahmad in his new book.

“A land zoning policy should be established based on the capacity of the land,” he recommends, adding that land use should be planned on a watershed basis.

“Because of the lack of attention to this detail often the soils with the best agricultural potential suffer from periodic flooding in the lower and flatters areas, which is a problem throughout the Caribbean.”

Prof Ahmad’s comprehensive book, “Soils of the Caribbean,” has just been published and among other things, it examines the soils and related features of Caribbean territories, individually.

Additionally, he describes in general terms management features of the soils and makes recommendations for land use in the Caribbean.

Professor Ahmad was born in 1932 in Guyana and is one of the few surviving Associates of the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture (AICTA).

He was an undergraduate student from 1949-1952 (DICTA), and postgraduate (AICTA) from 1952-1953. He went on to do his M.Sc. in Canada (Mc Gill University and the University of British Columbia), and then did his PhD in the UK. Having completed his PhD in 1957, Dr Ahmad returned to what was British Guiana to take up the position of Agricultural Chemist and Head of the Division of Soil Science in the Ministry of Agriculture.

In 1961, he returned to Trinidad to take up a position as lecturer, and he became a professor of Soil Science in 1969. At 79, he is a Professor Emeritus, attached to the Department of Food Production in the Faculty of Science and Agriculture.

Professor Ahmad’s work in Tropical Soil Science is internationally acclaimed and he has travelled the world, acting as a consultant and advisor in soil and land use problems. He was awarded the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) Gold Medal for his contribution to research in Soil Science in the Caribbean and Latin American Region.

The book is available at the UWI Bookshop.