FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

South America consolidates its Regional Soil Partnership

FAO and members of the South American Soil Partnership work together to create a five-year plan to contribute to the recovery of soils in the subregion.

About 50% of soils in Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from nutrient deficiencies

March 6, 2015, Santiago, Chile - Strengthening the management structure of the South American Soil Partnership was the main outcome of a workshop organized by FAO, members of the Global Soil Partnership, international experts and representatives from ten South American countries, held in the framework of the International Year of Soils 2015.

For four days at the FAO Regional Office in Santiago, members of the South American Soil Partnership established their Managment Committee and Secretariat, product of a joint effort with the focal points for soil from South American countries and representatives of National Soil Societies.

"The consolidation of this Regional Partnership will enable countries to unite their efforts to protect, recover and manage their soils, an essential step towards eradicating hunger" said Ronald Vargas, FAO Officer for Soils and Secretary of the Global Soil Partnership.

In addition, FAO and the Partnership outlined the main points of a five-year regional plan that seeks to address the main problems affecting soil in the subregion, which will be formalized during the International Year of Soils 2015.

According to FAO, the soils of the region are the basis for its food production, and are essential to ensure food security for all its inhabitants. Soil is a nonrenewable resource: generating only a couple of centimeters of soil can take hundreds of years.

"The soils of South America not only feed the region, they also play a key role in global food security, as the region is a major food exporter," said Vargas, noting that degradation affects, to varying degrees, a large part of agricultural soils in South America.

Challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean
Soil erosion affects the entire continent. More than half of the territory in some countries is severely damaged due to poor management and use of natural resources. According to FAO, 14% of global land degradation occurs in Latin America and the Caribbean, affecting 150 million people. In Mesoamerica this phenomen affect to 26% of the territory.

Low fertility is a problem that affects a large part of the soils of the region: about 50% of soils in Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from nutrient deficiencies. In total, about 20% of soils in the region are arid, while 10% have limited drainage.

South American Soil Partnership

The South American Soil Partnership forms part of the Global Soil Partnership, which seeks to promote the sustainable use and management of soils to ensure food and nutritional security, adaptation to climate change, the provision of environmental services and sustainable development.

The Global Partnership has five pillars:

  • Promoting sustainable land management
  • Promoting investment, technical cooperation, policies and awareness
  • Promotion of research and development
  • Improving the quantity and quality of data and information on soils
  • Harmonization of methods, measures and indicators for sustainable management and soil protection.

FAO is in charge of its Secretariat, and coordinates the efforts of governments, civil society, private sector, academia and all other members of the Partnership.

 The South American Soil Partnership facilitates linkages between national and local programs and activities of soil and land management to strengthen joint ventures and develop synergies.