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Healthy soil is the foundation for healthy life

Latest updates from the closing workshop of the Project “Sustainable Soil Management for Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia” held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in August 2022.

4th August 2022, Dhaka, Bangladesh – A closing workshop of the Project “Sustainable Soil Management for Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia” was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and its Global Soil Partnership (GSP). The workshop and the related mission (1-5 August 2022) were aimed at concluding the project activities and finalizing the validation of national policy briefs and technical guidelines containing concrete recommendations at the national level. 

12/09/2022

 

THE PROJECT

The 3-year German Government-funded project - implemented in Bangladesh, Malawi and Burkina Faso - aimed to promote sustainable soil management (SSM) practices for nutrition-sensitive agriculture. The Government of Bangladesh, FAO and GSP began collaborating on the project in September 2019, with the objective of improving the nutritional quality of locally produced food, particularly its micronutrients content. The Soil Resources Development Institute (SRDI) and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) of the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture, with the support from the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), all contributed to the success of the project.

“Global soil degradation is estimated at 33%, and policymakers around the world are looking for solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to combat this challenge.” - Robert D. Simpson, FAO Representative in Bangladesh.

THE CASE OF BANGLADESH

More than half of the population in Bangladesh are malnourished and 450 000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition. The consumption of nutrient-deficient staple crops cultivated on nutrient-depleted soils has emerged as a potential driver of nutritional deficiency.

Furthermore, agriculture intensification using nutrient-rich high-yielding varieties can lead to a steady decline in soil fertility, putting the country's long-term food and nutritional security at risk.

The goal of the project was to develop SSM technical guidelines and policy briefs, building on existing/traditional knowledge and integrating it into a multidisciplinary approach to highlight the link between soil and human health.

PROJECT OUTPUTS AND RECOMMEDATIONS

The project in Bangladesh focused on three main outputs: a) field trials and demonstrations to improve micronutrient content and quality of soils and crops; b) capacity building of national institutions and farmers; and c) development of technical guidelines and policy briefs on SSM for nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

Most of the activities included field demonstrations in three areas in Bangladesh, a baseline survey involving 600 farmers, soil awareness raising trainings for 180 stakeholders, and the first pilot-phase of the Global Soil Doctors Programme that resulted in the training of 450 farmers, 10 trainers, and  the award of the first 15 farmers certified within the Global Soil Doctors programme.

SSM practices, such as crop associations, integrated fertilization strategies ensuring the availability of macro and micronutrients in soils (including pH regulation/adjustment) and increased use of soil organic matter, were included in the project recommendations. The Global Soil Doctors Programme was recognized as the main tool to scale up the implementation of SSM practices for nutrition-sensitive agriculture. Research activities and demonstration fields on the biological and physical benefits of soil organic matter, chronically lacking throughout the country, were recommended as high priority.

TOWARDS THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE BANGLADESH SOIL PARTNERSHIP

Although the SRDI participates in the activities of the GSP and the Asian Soil Partnership, in particular the technical networks on soil data and information, soil laboratory analysis and fertilizer analysis, it was recommended that synergies be created with other national and international institutions. To strengthen soil-related activities at the national level, the SRDI, with the support of the GSP, proposed the establishment of a National Soil Partnership. The improvement of soil organic carbon maps and carbon sequestration potential maps with the support of FAO Bangladesh is considered an important input for the objectives of the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)’s targets and the prioritization of intervention areas.

The closing workshop was attended by Mr Md. Sayedul Islam, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture as the chief guest. Dr. Shaikh Mohammad Bokhtiar, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) as the chair of the session, Mr Md. Kamaruzzaman, Director General, Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI), Mr Kabir Ahamed, Joint Secretary and Wing Chief (UN), Economic Relations Division (ERD) and Mr Florian Höllen, Head of Economic Development, German Embassy were among the special guests. Mr. Robert D. Simpson, FAO Representative in Bangladesh participated as guest of honor.

RESOURCES

Project webpage | BangladeshPhotogallery 

PRESENTATIONS

RELATED LINKS

IN THE NEWS

  • https://www.dhakatribune.com/agriculture/2022/08/06/fao-organizes-workshop-on-sustainable-soil-management
  • https://en.ittefaq.com.bd/2029/Healthy-soil-is-the-foundation-for-healthy-life
  • https://www.newagebd.net/article/177654/sustainable-soil-management-underscored-for-healthy-life
  • https://en.samakal.com/bangladesh/article/220883/healthy-soil-is-the-foundation-for-healthy-life?fbclid=IwAR1IceRFFacCxq8_AIqbf2I80WLmOzMCgKcU3BFEarsjlKx8qZBe9cJAxWM
  • https://www.bssnews.net/news/national/75495
  • https://bangladeshpost.net/posts/proper-sdg-implementation-could-resolve-global-soil-degradation-crisis-91606
  • http://agrilife24.com/2021/2018-02-24-11-08-45/7606-fao4ag.html