Global Soil Partnership

'Sustainable soil management for nutrition-sensitive agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia' project

The Global Soil Partnership is supporting FAO member countries to apply sustainable soil management practices in an effort to improve the nutritional quality of locally-produced foods to address micronutrient deficiencies in people. The project is a 3-year initiative funded by the government of Germany. It is being piloted in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso and Malawi where the government have highlighted the need to address human nutrient deficiencies, particularly in rural communities.

“Soil management is sustainable if the supporting, provisioning, regulating, and cultural services provided by soil are maintained or enhanced without significantly impairing either the soil functions that enable those services or biodiversity. The balance between the supporting and provisioning services for plant production and the regulating services the soil provides for water quality and availability and for atmospheric greenhouse gas composition is a particular concern.” Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil management. FAO, 2017.

The goal of the project is to improve nutrition through the soil, crop, and human continuum, particularly in locally-produced  and consumed foods. The three project components are:

  1. Revision of existing documentation on sustainable soil management for nutrition sensitive agriculture and identification of knowledge gaps;
  2. National capacities are developed to strengthen technical and local extension services to implement sustainable soil management practices;
  3. The policy environment for investment and technical cooperation is strengthened in terms of promoting sustainable soil management that integrates nutrition-sensitive agriculture and micronutrient management, supported by related guidelines developed under the Global and Regional Soil Partnerships.

Major activities of the second component, will centre on pilot field sites in each of the three countries to demonstrate sustainable soil management technologies to increase micronutrient contents of soils and crops, with associated capacity-development and training activities for farmers and national agricultural research and extension research personnel. 

In collaboration with colleagues from the health and nutrition sector, the result of the pilot trials, specifically any changes in micronutrient contents of the edible part  of the crops, combined with the food consumption habits  of the farmers and local community, will be used to infer possible health outcomes on the local populations.

Other activities 

Other activities will include a series of national and international workshops that focus on technical and policy-related aspects of soil management and nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

“Nutrition-sensitive agriculture is a food-based approach to agricultural development that puts nutritionally rich foods, dietary diversity, and food fortification at the heart of overcoming malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.” Nutrition-sensitive agriculture. FAO, 2014.

Project members from the three pilot countries will gather at an international workshop towards the end of the project to share the project’s results and experiences with other experts in soils, agronomy and human nutrition. The dialogue and discussion during the workshop is expected to shed further light on the potential contribution of sustainable soil management for nutrition-sensitive agriculture and inform a technical and policy guide on this topic. 

The technical and policy guide will be a major output of the project and is intended to further support countries to implement the Voluntary Guidelines on Sustainable Soil Management and the International Code of Conduct for Sustainable Use and Management of Fertilizers and to address the issue of nutrient imbalances and other threats to soils, agriculture and food security and nutrition. 

Pilot countries

Bangladesh

BANGLADESH

Selected crops: Rice, mung bean cauliflower, cabbage

Burkina Faso

BURKINA FASO

Selected crops: Sorghum, cowpea

Malawi"

MALAWI

Selected crops: Maize, soybean, amaranth