Soils are the foundations of family farming
The International Year of Soils 2015 officially kicked off on World Soil Day, 5 December 2014, with celebrations taking place in New York, Santiago and Bangkok
The Rome event, entitled "Soils, a foundation for family farming" was officially opened in FAO Headquarters by Mr. José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General. In his opening remarks, the FAO Director-General highlighted the significant contribution of healthy soils "to achieve our food security and nutrition goals, to fight climate change and to ensure overall sustainable development". Mr. José Graziano da Silva also pointed out that soils, though vital, are often forgotten, "The multiple roles of soils often go unnoticed. Soils don’t have a voice, and few people speak out for them. They are our silent ally in food production."
Soils and family farming
Mr. José Graziano da Silva stressed the important connections between soils and family farming. "We need to support family farmers in order to support soils," he said. " "We must manage soils sustainably. There are many ways to do this. Crop diversification, which is used by most of the world’s family farmers, is one of them: this gives time for important nutrients to regenerate. This is only one example of the role of family farmers in producing food, preserving our natural resources, and safeguarding biodiversity."
Our soils are in danger because of expanding cities, deforestation, unsustainable land use and management practices, pollution, overgrazing and climate change. The current rate of soil degradation threatens the capacity to meet the needs of future generations. The main goal of the International Year of Soils 2015 (IYS) is to raise awareness about the importance of healthy soils and to advocate for sustainable soil management in order to protect this precious natural resource.
The event was attended by a number of speakers representing various sectors including governments, academia, international organizations and the private sector. The general consensus was that all stakeholders stand united and will work together to make this International Year a success.
The partnerships, successes and platforms built during the International Year of Quinoa 2013 and the International Year of Family Farming 2014 will strengthen the IYS 2015 and highlight the linkages between family farming and soils. The synergies are evident: family farmers depend on healthy soils as much as soils depend on them. And the planet relies on both for a sustainable and food secure future.
H.E. Surapit Kirtiputra, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to Italy and Mr. Peter Bartha, representing the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture, presented the FAO Director-General with three soil monoliths as a mark of Thailand and Hungary's commitment to the International Year.