2015 Ethiopia Soil Campaign underway
The Ethiopian Soil Campaign was launched in June 2015 with the theme of “Healthy Soils for Healthy Life”. This campaign is spearheaded by the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ministry of Environment and Forest, UNFAO and international non-governmental Organizations.
As part of this campaign, Ethiopia Soil Week will take place between 16 and 21 of November 2015. To enhance public awareness about healthy soils and maximize public engagement in this campaign, the Ministry of Agriculture and key stakeholders organized a briefing for the national media.
At the event, highlighting the International Year of Soils, Mr. Mohamed Salih, Deputy FAO Representative said, “The International Year of Soils offers an opportunity to raise full awareness and educate the public at large and policy makers about the crucial role soil plays in food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystems, poverty alleviation and sustainable development.”
Representing the Ethiopian Government, Her Excellency Mrs. Frenesh Mekuria, State Minister of Natural Resources for the Ministry of Agriculture said, “This campaign is an extension of the United Nations declaration to dedicate December 5 to the celebration of World Soil Day and 2015 as the International Year of Soils. This is an important platform for Ethiopia to increase the public awareness about the importance of soils for the survival and existence of human person, animals and plants.”
Highlighting the importance of soils in Ethiopia, Mrs. Frenesh said, “Millions of Ethiopians directly rely on crop farming and livestock for a living. Continuous farming of the same farmland leads to ra eduction of soil fertility. If this continues land productivity will reduce and we will not be able to produce enough food. At the government level, we have been working and will continue to promote the importance of soil management to maintain soil fertility and productivity. The government has put in place awareness raising and good practice packages to increase understanding and promote practical actions on soil protection and development.”
Ethiopia promotes climate smart green economy, said Mrs. Frenesh, “the good practice we are proud of is our sound integrated watershed management practices carried by farming communities focusing on soil and water conservation activities. The government mobilized millions of farmers to carry out soil and water conservation activities, which directly contributed to the improvement of crop and livestock production.”
“If there is no soil there is no life,” said Professor Tekalegn Mamo, adviser to the Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture and Special Ambassador of the International Year of Soils 2015, “Globally soil erosion has increased by 30 percent and in Sub-Saharan Africa by 60 percent. Unless Sub-Saharan African countries take concrete actions on the protection and development of soil, they will find it very hard to ensure the food security of their people.”
Professor Tekalegn added that 95 percent of our food comes from soil, but the mismanagement of soil has caused immense and irreversible damage. “This sub-region suffers high soil degradation and hosts high population growth but low food production. This is not sustainable, and this cycle will continue if governments don’t act quickly to reverse this vicious cycle,” commented Professor Tekalegn.
The 2015 Ethiopia Soil Campaign has been undertaking a public awareness campaign about the International Year of Soils, including a media campaign targeting the general public and school children. During the Ethiopia Soil Week (16 – 21 November 2015) various activities including a panel discussion on soil health management, field visits to farms and research institutes, and workshops on conservation agriculture, the role of soil in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and other topics will take place. The Ethiopia Soil Campaign will be officially wrapped up on 5 December with the Annual Conference on Soil health management and launch of the Farming Matters Magazine in the presence of high government officials and key stakeholders.