HAVANA._ Experts concur that progressive global soil degradation poses a threat to food security, especially in developing countries where most of the world‘s population is concentrated.
If a few decades ago this issue was largely overlooked since only half of the world’s arable land was cultivated, today the situation is very different.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there are currently 800 million hungry people and even though 10 years ago the number surpassed 1 billion, the present amount of individuals affected by this scourge is still too high.
The need for food will not stop increasing and the availability of arable land per person, particularly in third world nations, will most likely continue to decline.
These and other topics related to food security were debated at the recently convened 39th FAO Conference in Rome.
A few days before in Havana, a workshop on Regional Soil Alliance (representing the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico) was held by this international body with the goal of adopting a strategy for the conservation and protection of this vital resource that produces most of our nutrients.
Bolivian Ronald Vargas, secretary of the World Soil Alliance, highlighted that among the agreements reached at the meeting was the formation of a regional program for the management, conservation, and restoration of the soil; a platform for sustainable agriculture with an educational component and a series of ongoing awareness activities.
Other agreements focus on increasing the funding by the region‘s nations for interdisciplinary research and soil application, strengthening of the Latin American Soil Information System (SISLAC for its Spanish acronym), and developing of skills in digital cartography of fertile lands and functional applications.
Participants also agreed on the creation of a regional program for the standardization of soil analysis and methodologies to assess the impact of sustainable management on the areas.
Moujahed Achouri, director of the FAO Water and Land Division, said that healthy soil is the foundation of global food production, which is why it should become an integral element of public policy.
Achouri, who warned that pressure on soil resources was reaching its limits, added that this is a vital resource for food and nutrition security, and it might help to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.
According to the expert, in addition to supporting 95 percent of food production, the soil is also home to over one quarter of the planet‘s biodiversity.
Additionally, it is an important source of pharmaceutical products and plays an important part in the carbon cycle.
He cautioned that soil degradation, estimated at 33 percent worldwide, was alarming and had the potential to endanger food security and drive many people into poverty.
It is not surprising that the FAO has launched an international appeal to those responsible for soil management and policy to join forces in order to reduce degradation and recuperate affected lands.Share on FB Share on TT