FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Expert meeting in Tashkent focuses on healthy soils

©FAO/Vladimir Valishvili


The second meeting of the International Network on salt-affected soils (INSAS) is taking place this week in Tashkent to address land degradation and build stronger linkages between science, policy, and farmers.

“The International Network on Salt-affected soils brings together 700 experts from 120 countries around the world,” said Maria Konyushkova, coordinator of the International Network on Salt-affected soils.

The purpose of the meeting is to review the progress made by the network in the past two years (2021–2022), discuss and identify priorities for the network, develop the work plan for 2023–2024, strengthen the cooperation between the members, and improve their knowledge through trainings.

The salinization and sodification of agricultural land are increasing due to climate change, water shortages, and unsustainable farming practices. Forecasts indicate a 23 percent increase in global drylands by the end of the century. Moreover, 80 percent of this increase will occur in the developing nations.

“The main solutions that we propose are to change the farming tactics in the areas affected by salinity, which includes transforming agrifood systems and introduction of new crops, called halophytes, which grow on saline lands,” explained Maria Konyushkova. “Halophytes account for less than 1 percent of all crops, so, we aim to raise public awareness for greater introduction of these crops. The second very important decision is to increase soil fertility, manage its water-physical properties, increase the carbon content and improve its porosity and physical  state.”

Experts from over 30 countries, including Australia, Armenia, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, France, Georgia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Pakistan, Senegal, Spain, Tajikistan, Tanzania, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and others are attending this major international forum.

The event’s program includes the workshop on salt-affected soils, technical sessions of INSAS working groups on assessment, sustainable soil management, water and crops, as well as a field visit to the dried-up Aral Sea, which remains one of the starkest examples when anthropogenic factors and mismanagement of water resources caused a large-scale environmental disaster.

The event is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the World Bank, Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands. 

24 May 2023, Tashkent, Uzbekistan


Guzal Fayzieva

Communication specialist