Healthy soils are the foundation of food production

Global Soil Week opens with emphasis on soils for development

20 April 2015, Rome - Healthy soils are the foundation of global food production and ought to become a key agenda item in public policy, said Moujahed Achouri, Director of FAO’s Land and Water Division, addressing the third Global Soil Week in Berlin today.

Global Soil Week brings together more than 550 participants from 78 countries working on sustainable soil management and land governance.

“Soils are essential for achieving food security and nutrition and have the potential to help mitigate the negative impacts of climate change,” said Achouri, who added that pressures on soil resources are reaching critical limits.

In addition to sustaining 95 percent of food production, soils host more than a quarter of the planet’s biodiversity, are a major source of pharmaceuticals, and play a critical role in the carbon cycle, he added.

At the same time, the level of soil degradation – estimated at 33 percent globally – is “alarming” and has the potential to threaten food security and send many people into poverty, Achouri said.

Sustainable soil management, in turn, can contribute to the production of more and healthier food. FAO called on the international soil community and policy makers to work together to reduce soil degradation and restore already degraded land.

Global spotlight on soils

Global Soil Week 2015 coincides with the International Year of Soils, which aims to raise awareness about often-unrecognized benefits of soils to human health and sustainable development.

This year’s Soil Week, highlights the need for including soil issues in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are currently being discussed.  

“If humanity’s overarching need for food security and nutrition, climate change mitigation and sustainable development is to be met, soil resources have to be given the global attention they deserve,” said Achouri.

Photo: ©/FAO/Olivier Asselin
Healthy soils are essential to food security and play a critical role in the carbon cycle