spacerThe Roundupspacer

our soil is our biggest resource!

Tomorrow, December 5, is the yearly World Soil Day, organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. The theme this year is 'Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity'.

It’s becoming more apparent that one of the last standing hopes in avoiding driving our planet into a catastrophic apocalypse lays in the soil beneath our feet; a resource that is turning scarce as days go by. It might seem an obviously precious resource, but the role soil plays in producing 95 per cent of the world’s food as well as storing water, capturing carbon and controlling weather balance, is too often overlooked.

As stated by the UN, "By encouraging people around the world to engage in proactively improving soil health, the campaign also aims to fight soil biodiversity loss. If we do not act soon, the fertility of soil will continue to be adversely affected at an alarming rate, threatening global food supplies and food safety."

Welcome back to FairPlanet's weekly roundup. Read. Debate: Engage.

The good

soil restoration is helping grow india's economy

For India, agriculture has always been at the heart of its growth. Even with increased levels of urbanisation across the country of the past few decades, India is an economy that relies on agriculture – two-thirds of the population still thrive and depend on farming and agriculture for their livelihood. And when it comes to agriculture, soil and water are two main resources that contribute to its progress but have been taken for granted over the past few decades, to detrimental effects.

However, a new movement of sustainable agriculture and soil restoration is underway across the nation – not only creating new jobs, growing the economy and feeding the country but also giving back to our Earth and leaving lands that are healthy and useful for generations to come.

In Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, a watershed development project positively transformed three villages where the land was uncultivable due to heavy soil erosion and water scarcity. In turn and as a result of the successful soil uplifting, awareness was created on the importance of watershed management through the creation of a Watershed Committee which comprised of farmers as a core committee member from every village.

The bad

Sub-saharan Africa is suffering from soil erosion and draughts!

As a result of overfarming and climate change-influenced draughts, Sub Saharan Africa is suffering greatly from soil erosion. One such country is Zambia. Farming in Zambia is predominantly rain-fed, with only about 2 to 3 per cent of cultivated land area annually irrigated.

Agriculture provides employment for 67 per cent of the labour force and remains by far the major opportunity for the employment of rural women in the country – currently, agriculture contributes about 23 per cent of the country’s GDP.

However, over the past decade, soil erosion has become a growing issue in the country. Soil erosion and soil degradation are closely linked to deforestation and clearing new land for agriculture when old fields lose their fertility is a major source of deforestation. On top of that, bush fires are a major cause of soil degradation.

In Zambia, it is crucial that awareness and promotion of irrigation are brought to the forefront among small scale farmers; using simple water-lifting devises and drip irrigation to offset the impact of erratic rainfall can be positive first step. Furthermore, it is also important to work with communities to control bush fires and livestock in the dry season through the involvement and education of local leadership.

Soil on FairPlanet

An ecosystem-relevant update is ready for download

by Nora Sophie Griefahn, Tim Janßen

It is time for us to redesign our economies in a way that does not simply reduce ecological harm but actively seeks to benefit the environment.

One Acre Fund ends hunger by uplifting rural farmers

by Yair Oded

One Acre Fund provides small scale farmers in Africa with techniques and trainings in order to develop self-sustaining agricultural businesses.

The pioneering Push-Pull method and its appeal over agrochemicals

by Stefan Diener

While debates about pesticides and their effects persist, the Push-Pull method is making the case for agroecological, sustainable farming in Eastern Africa.
Country focus

Zambia, a landlocked country in Sub Saharan Africa has held a different story to that of many of its neighbouring nations – one of relative peace and stability, away from civil war in post-colonial eras. This has earned Zambia a reputation as a nation of political stability.

As the second-largest producer of Copper, Zambia has experienced rapid economic growth, as well as the world's fastest-growing populations, with the UN projecting that its population will triple by 2050. However, despite this massive growth, two-thirds of Zambians are still living in poverty.

Agriculture is a massive industry in the country, offering jobs for over 60 per cent of the country's labour population.