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FAO defends urgent measures to combat soil pollution in Mozambique

World Soils Meeting in Maputo
06/12/2018

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defended today urgent measures to combat soil pollution in Mozambique, considering that soil degradation affects food and nutritional security in the country.

"Urgent action is needed to combat soil pollution and contain the multiple threats it poses to food security," said Laurinda Nobela, FAO's national expert on soil and water, at a panel discussion in Maputo held today. That initiative had the collaboration with the Institute of Agricultural Research of Mozambique (IIAM), on the World Soil Day that was marked on Wednesday (5th December).

The FAO expert added that "for the specific case of Mozambique, human action and climate change are the main causes that have threatened the quality of soils, which are mostly affected by hydric erosion."

Representing IIAM's Director General, the Director of the Training and Technology Transfer Department, Albertina Alage, called for the union of efforts in the fight against soil degradation, noting that sustainable land use is a condition for increasing production and productivity and for improving food security in the country.

"Today we mark an important step for the Mozambicans to pay attention to their actions in the use and conservation of the soil, thus avoiding its degradation," she noted.

This year, the slogan of World Soil Day, celebrated on December 5th, is "Be the solution to soil pollution", and FAO recommends some actions on how to reduce soil contamination at the state, industrial and the consumer.

The use of agrochemicals without due care, solid waste and untreated wastewater are also a source of soil pollution, which in the medium term lead to pollutants in the food chain with serious consequences for the health and well-being of consumers.

Due to inappropriate agricultural practices, according to the Strategic Plan for the Development of the Agrarian Sector (PEDSA 2010-2019), an accelerated increase in the reduction of soil fertility is predicted and the urban population is estimated to reach 45% in 2019, against the current 35%, which will translate into a considerable increase in food demand over the next 10 years.

Laurinda Nobela explains that "the increase in the need for food for this population implies the increase of areas of cultivation and / or intensification of agriculture, which further propitiates the degradation of soils.

"Given this scenario, it is necessary to use sustainable practices such as crop diversification, agro ecology, soil cover, reforestation, among others," she concluded.

FAO has been implementing programmes that promote these practices through the Farmer Field Schools (FFS) approach where it trains technicians and agrarian producers in sustainable use and management practices, strengthening their resilience and adaptation capacities to climate change. FAO also produced a curriculum for adaptation measures / FFS manual and a Codes of Conduct for the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

FAO leads the Global Soil Partnership and encourages sustainable management in such a way that the Intergovernmental Panel of the member countries has developed a voluntary guide to sustainable soil management strategies and practices.

The Global Soil Partnership was created by FAO to safeguard the knowledge that inappropriate practices and human pressure associated with climate change are intensifying land degradation despite the essential role that soil plays in human livelihoods.

According to UN estimates, around 33% of the world's soils are degraded, and more than 10 million people have already left their places of origin due to, among other things, soil degradation.