World Soil Day - Addressing Soil Fertility to Ensure Food Security

Every year the 5th of December is marked as the World Soil Day, established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to raise awareness about the importance of soil quality for food security, healthy ecosystems and human well-being.

The World Soil Day promotes strategies for sustainable use of soil, which is a limited non-renewable natural resource, essential to human livelihoods as the food is grown from it. Soil is under growing pressure as the world’s population continues to increase. Higher demand for food competes with other uses of land.

“You can’t talk about an end to global hunger without addressing the issue of soil fertility” - Theresa Rempel, Manager of Scaling-Up Conversation Agriculture in East Africa, Canadian Foodgrains Bank

The FAO reported that approximately 33 per cent of global soils are degraded. The ever changing climate is magnifying land degradation processes. Extreme climate events are contributing to huge amounts of soil loss. In sub–Saharan Africa, millions of hectares of land are disappearing every year yet 80% of its economy is based on subsistence farming. Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary at The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) says “the health and productivity of the ground that we stand on will influence the future prosperity and security of humankind.”

For many countries a lot of the damage is already done, the main question being raised is how to restore and rehabilitate the land?

Earlier this year, young farmers in Kenya took matters into their own hands and embraced technology to help beat toxic soils. The Esteem Eagles Welfare Youth Group gathered resources and focused on hydroponic farming due to the quality of the soil not suitable for conventional farming. Hydroponics is a new approach to growing plants in other substances than soil.

“Further loss of productive soils would severely damage food production and food security, amplify food-price volatility, and potentially plunge millions of people into hunger and poverty” – José Graziano da Silva, Director-General, FAO

It is imperative that action is taken to ensure the world has a more food secure future. The importance of maintaining healthy soil needs to remain significant every day.  

The need for sustainable agricultural transformation in Africa is focus of the Africa Climate Smart Agriculture Summit 2018. Organised by the Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF), the Summit will look into innovative financing, capacity building, partnerships and the use of technology to advance climate-smart agriculture practices in Africa. Visit csa-africa.aidforum.org for more information.

Image Source: https://enst.umd.edu

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