FAO organizes workshop on sustainable soil management

Alongside Bangladesh, FAO has executed the initiative in Malawi and Burkina Faso

With a goal to promote and support the use of Sustainable Soil Management (SSM) for nutrition-sensitive agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) organized a workshop on the project “Sustainable Soil Management for Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia” on Thursday.

In order to improve the nutritional value of foods grown locally, the government of Bangladesh and the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) initiative of the FAO launched the project in September 2019 with funding from the German Government, said a press release.

The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) and the Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI) of the Ministry of Agriculture implemented the project.

The goal of the project was to develop recommendations for SSM policy guidelines based on existing knowledge and a multidisciplinary approach to show the role of soil in human health.

The project activities included field demonstrations in three Upazilas in Bangladesh, a baseline survey of 600 farmers, 45 field demonstrations, awareness development training for 180 stakeholders and soil doctor training for 450 farmers. 

Alongside Bangladesh, FAO has executed the initiative in Malawi and Burkina Faso

Most of the world’s food is derived from soil, which is a critical resource and an important part of the natural ecosystem. Increases in population, increased food demand, and competing land uses are all putting stress on soils. 

More than half of the people in Bangladesh are malnourished, and 450,000 children have severe acute malnutrition. Consumption of nutrient-deficient staple crops cultivated on nutrient-depleted soils is a potential contributor of nutritional deficits.

Furthermore, agriculture intensification using nutrient-rich high-yielding varieties can lead to a decline in soil fertility resulting in jeopardizing long-term food and nutritional security. Sustainable soil management practices, such as crop associations and integrated fertility strategies, increase soil organic matter and ensure the availability of macro and micronutrients in soils.

The German government prioritizes soil protection and nutrition-sensitive agriculture. In 2022, Germany’s Global Forum for Food and Agriculture GFFA led a Communique on soils protection signed by 70 Agriculture Ministers.

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