Global Soil Partnership

Joining forces to boost soil health through sustainable land management in Central Asia

On August 17, under the initiative of the FAO office in Ashghabat, Turkmenistan, the Workshop on the tools of the Global Soil Partnership in support to the Central Asia countries initiative for Land Management (CACILM-2) was held in a hybrid format.

The FAO Regional Project titled Integrated management of natural resources in drought-prone and salt-affected agricultural production landscapes of Central Asia and Turkey (CACILM-2) is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The project is aimed at the adoption of integrated landscape management approaches and practices that help stabilize and even reverse trends of soil salinization, reduce erosion, improve water capture and retention, increase the sequestration of carbon, and reduce loss of agrobiodiversity, thereby reducing the desertification trend in terms of extent and severity.

The representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, State Committee for Water Resources, Turkmen Academy of Sciences, Turkmen Agricultural University named after S.A. Niyazov, Dashoguz Turkmen Agricultural Institute, Administration of Dashoguz and Akhal Provinces, Scientific Information Center of the Interstate Commission for Sustainable Development of Central Asia made up the audience of 30 people interested in implementing the tools and programmes of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) at the national and local levels.


The promotion of practices that may help farmers to store water in soil and mitigate the negative effect of salinity will help to improve food security and provide sustainable crop production”, said Mr Mergen Yusupov, Deputy Head of the Department of Coordination of International Environmental Cooperation and Projects, from the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection of Turkmenistan. Mr Yusupov, who is also the CACILM-2 national project coordinator, welcomed the participants and stressed the need for enhanced management of soils in the country, which suffers from dry climate and salinity.

Mr Rahmanberdi Hanekov, national project manager in FAO-Turkmenistan, presented to the participants the CACILM-2 project and its goals and activities in Turkmenistan. He noted that all project components: multi-country collaboration and partnership; integration of sustainable soil management into policy, legal and institutional frameworks; upscaling of climate-smart agricultural practices in drought prone and salt affected landscapes – can be underpinned by the tools that are proposed by the GSP.

Mr Hanekov also took the opportunity to thank the GSP for organizing a 3-day online training on mapping of salt-affected soils (Module 1. Data preparation) attended by 40 Turkmen experts.  Further trainings on more advanced modules will be delivered at the end of August 2022.

The agenda of the workshop continued with the introduction of the GSP structure and main areas of work provided by Ms Maria Konyushkova, from the GSP Secretariat, and the presentation of the Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN) and how this is implemented in Russia by Ms Elena Shamrikova, Institute of Biology of Komi Science Center of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). Ms Carolina Olivera Sanchez, GSP Secretariat, briefed the attendees on the Global Soil Doctors programme, and Ms Aizhan Karabaeva, from FAO-Kazakhstan, explained how this programme is being implemented in Kazakhstan. To conclude the set of presentations, Ms Natalia Rodriguez Eugenio, GSP Secretariat, described the functioning and relevance of the RECSOIL initiative.

Following the presentations, participants engaged in a Q&A round to address the benefits of the GSP tools, networks and programmes for the successful implementation of the CACILM-2 project. The main conclusions of the event were:

  • The implementation of GLOSOLAN is essential to produce reliable and harmonized soil data at national and regional levels, which are useful for monitoring and reporting activities and for the implementation of programmes such as RECSOIL. The creation of National Soil Laboratory Networks further supports capacity building and data exchange at the national level.
  • The Global Soil Doctors programme is a valuable tool for the implementation of new practices in the field, enabling the dissemination of scientific knowledge. It is a farmer-to-farmer initiative that helps to reverse and control soil degradation by providing Soil Doctors with targeted training on how to preserve and restore good soil conditions and functions. Promoters are an essential component of the programme because they can offer local solutions, adapted policies, technologies and resources and extend their knowledge to their communities.
  • Soil is the largest terrestrial reservoir of organic carbon and has the potential to sequester part of the CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. The RECSOIL initiative could contribute to national climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts while improving soil health and farmers' livelihoods. Turkmenistan may have a higher soil carbon sequestration potential than initially estimated in the Global Soil Organic Carbon sequestration potential map. In fact, no local data were available at the time and the country map was developed by extrapolating and comparing pre-existing and global data.

As a result of the synergetic efforts of the CACILM-2 project with the GSP, a series of workshops and trainings on the tools offered by the GSP have been scheduled in the coming months, both in virtual and in-person format.