Poor Soil Management will Erode Food Security | 5th December 2022 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

It talks about the issue of soil degradation and its impact on food security on the occasion of World Soil Day (WSD) 2022.


  • GS1: Geography of India;
  • GS3: Indian Agriculture

What is World Soil Day (WSD)?

  • World Soil Day (WSD) is held annually on 5 December as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.
  • An international day to celebrate soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002.
  • Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, FAO has supported the formal establishment of WSD as a global awareness raising platform.
  • 2022 theme -‘Soils: Where food begins’

What is soil?

  • Soil is the loose surface material that covers most land. It consists of inorganic particles and organic matter.
  • Soil provides the structural support to plants used in agriculture and is also their source of water and nutrients.

Why is soil important?

  • Healthy soils are essential for our survival.
  • They support healthy plant growth to enhance both our nutrition and water percolation to maintain groundwater levels.
  • Soils help to regulate the planet’s climate by storing carbon and are the second largest carbon sink after the oceans.
  • They help maintain a landscape that is more resilient to the impacts of droughts and floods.

What is soil degradation?

  • Soil degradation is the physical, chemical and biological decline in soil quality.
  • It can be the loss of organic matter, decline in soil fertility, and structural condition.
  • Today, nutrient loss and pollution significantly threaten soils, and thereby undermine nutrition and food security globally.
  • The main drivers contributing to soil degradation are industrial activities, mining, waste treatment, agriculture, fossil fuel extraction and processing and transport emissions.
  • The reasons behind soil nutrient loss range from soil erosion, runoff, leaching and the burning of crop residues.
  • Soil degradation in some form or another affects around 29% of India’s total land area.
    Nearly 3.7 million hectares suffer from nutrient loss in soil (depletion of soil organic matter, or
  • SOM).
    Further, excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, and irrigation with contaminated wastewater are also polluting soils.

What is India’s conservation strategy?

  • The Government of India is implementing a five-pronged strategy for soil conservation.
    • This includes making soil chemical-free, saving soil biodiversity, enhancing SOM, maintaining soil moisture, mitigating soil degradation and preventing soil erosion.
  • Some initiatives includes:
    • Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme (2015) – to provide status of soil’s health to farmers
    • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana – to prevent soil erosion, regeneration of natural vegetation, rainwater harvesting and recharging of the groundwater table
    • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) – to promote traditional indigenous practices such as organic farming and natural farming, thereby reducing dependency on chemicals and other agri-inputs, and decreasing the monetary burden on smallholder farmers.
  • Collaboration with FAO –
    • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) undertakes multiple activities to support the Government of India’s efforts in soil conservation towards fostering sustainable agrifood systems.
    • The FAO is collaborating with the National Rainfed Area Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (MoA&FW) to develop forecasting tools using data analytics that will aid vulnerable farmers in making informed decisions on crop choices, particularly in rainfed areas.
    • The FAO, in association with the Ministry of Rural Development, supports the Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission’s (DAY-NRLM) Community Resource Persons to increase their capacities towards supporting on-farm livelihoods for the adoption of sustainable and resilient practices, organic certification and agri-nutri-gardens.

Way Forward:

As consumers and citizens, we can contribute by planting trees to protect topsoil, developing and maintaining home/kitchen gardens, and consuming foods that are mainly locally sourced and seasonal.

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