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)?
What is soil?
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
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.
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.