FAO in India

Healthy soils are key to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals


On the occasion of World Soil Day 2020, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in collaboration with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), National Raifed Area Authority (NRAA), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Revitalising the Rainfed Agriculture (RRA) Network, organized an online discussion on the theme, “Soil Matters: Keep Soil Alive, Protect Soil Biodiversity” on December 3 & 4, 2020.

The World Soil Day (WSD) is an FAO supported initiative, endorsed by the UN General Assembly to celebrate Soil. This day is celebrated annually on December 05 to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.

As a knowledge partner for this campaign, FAO India aimed to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management. It does this through increasing awareness and encouraging governments, organizations, communities and individuals around the world to commit to proactively improve soil health. FAO India also contributes to raising awareness by sharing best practices to protect living soils from initiatives in India and around the globe.

Highlighting the theme of the event, FAO Representative in India Mr. Tomio Shichiri, in his key note address said that soil is a reservoir of global biodiversity. Soil biodiversity is essential to sustain and restore the vitality of agricultural systems, increase productivity, guarantee a long- term profitability and shape the future of belowground and aboveground ecosystems.

He elaborated that the campaign this year focuses on the workers belowground - from tiny bacteria to agile millipedes and slimy earthworms - all of which contribute to processes that are indispensable to life on Earth.  These soil organisms are responsible for many critical ecosystem processes, on which humans depend: from supporting plant growth, to storing carbon and being a vast reservoir for pharmaceuticals.

He stressed upon the need for a National Soil Policy to address issues of soil and land degradation, particularly in the context of India’s commitment towards land degradation neutrality. Further, a soil policy is required for sustainable soil and land use management through improvement of soil health, reclamation of problematic soils and their best utilization.

He added that, addressing issues related to soil diversity and its conservation are key elements in projects supported by FAO India. FAO India also supports the incorporation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into national policy documents on agriculture and environment, as also national and state governments effort towards effective implementation in relevant areas.

Over the two days this event saw participation of a national and international audience including participants from the development sector, government representatives, and researchers. Some of the eminent speakers were Dr A. Dalwai, National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA), Dr Rajeshwari Raina Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture Network (RRAN), Mr Nilay D. Kapoor National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), and Mr Rajeev Ahal, GIZ.


The World Soil Day campaign has become one of the most influential campaigns of FAO, with hundreds of events held worldwide with significant impact through the social and digital media.  The message on the importance of healthy soils for a healthy life is conveyed widely through this campaign.