A multilateral approach to sustainable soil management

The public sector, private sector, civil society and UN agencies should coordinate their efforts in the promotion of sustainable soil management to ensure healthy soils for future generations

The Committee on Food Security (12-16 October, Rome) provided the ideal setting for discussion on the fundamental role that soils play for food security and nutrition.

The side event, Sustainable soil management, healthy soils for food security and nutrition, organized by the FAO International Year of Soils Steering Committee in collaboration with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the Russian Federation, the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) and the World Farmers Organisation (WFO) consisted of open discussion from a multi-stakeholder panel which included representation from Bolivia, Argentina and Russia.

"Sustainable soil management is a pre-requisite for achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals," said Mr Moujahed Achouri, Director of FAO's Land and Water division, in his opening remarks. "With malnutrition affecting almost one third of global populations, soils constitute the basis for FAO's mandate of achieving food security and nutrition," he added.

Living in harmony with Mother Earth

In his intervention, H.E. César Hugo Cocarico Yana, Minister of Rural Development and Land, Bolivia, stressed the importance of nurturing the link between people and Mother Earth, what is referred to as 'pachamama' in Inca mythology. He added that new technologies should be adopted side by side with ancient techniques and indigenous traditions to ensure healthy and productive soils.

Innovation and technology are central to sustainable rural development

H.E. Javier Rodriguez, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Argentina noted how his Government is working hard to raise awareness and increase coordination in the areas of soil conservation and sustainable soil management. Mr. Rodriguez underlined the importance of innovation and technology as well as coordination between the public and private sectors in these efforts. "Institutes like the National Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA) are fundamental to the promotion of sustainable rural development in Argentina," he said.

Coherent strategies for soil protection are needed

Noting that loss of arable land is reaching critical proportions, H.E. Sergey Levin, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Russian Federation, called soils the "building blocks of agricultural production." The Russian Federation is supporting the development of the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Management of Soil Resources (VGSMS) which are a major step towards a more efficient global effort to establish a coherent strategy for soil protection. 

Sustainable soil management: a multi-faceted approach

Also speaking at the CFS side event was Dr. Sergey Shoba from the Eurasian Centre for Food Security, who briefed participants on the state of soils in the region. The Eurasian Centre for Food Security is leading restoration efforts in a region known for a wide variety of soil types and in the process of creating a database containing all soil-related information from the region.

Representing IFAD, Robert Delve stressed the need to create enabling environments, "what is needed are programmes, incentives, safety nets and risk mitigation measures to allow households, communities and governments to invest in and protect their soils,” he said. IFAD is currently working with governments in the areas of land tenure and access, community-based investments, and rural finance.

Other speakers included, Ms Charlotte Hebebrand (IFA), who spoke about crop and site specific sustainable fertilizer management; Dr. Kurt Weinberger, President of the of the worldwide association of agricultural insurers (AIAG), who underlined the importance of crop insurance for a stable agricultural sector; and Ms. Niada Quispe (IFOAM) who spoke about agroecology, particularly in the context of climate change.

What emerged from discussions is that there are many ways to promote sustainable soil management. However, coordination and collaboration among all stakeholders is vital in order  to create the enabling environments necessary to bring about change. Investment is much more than providing financial support, it requires a multilateral approach with farmers at its centre.





Share this page