Give soil the needed prominence for food security – FAO

The food and Agriculture Organization is urging countries to be more conscious about the use of the soil to enhance food and nutrition security.

Assistant Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Regional Office for Africa, Mr. Bukar Tijani, says the goal of improving global food security and nutrition, in the context of population growth, land degradation and climate change, cannot be attained satisfactorily unless soils are placed at the very top of the development agenda.

He was addressing African Soil partnership workshop at Elmina in the central region of Ghana where member countries deliberated on how to ensure healthier soils to spearhead productive economies and food security.

“Soils need to be recognized and valued not only for productive capacities, but also for their contributions to the maintenance of key ecosystem services. Recognizing these facts, the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly decided to declare 2015, the International Year of soils with the overall goal of being a major platform for raising awareness of the importance of soils in terms of food security, nutrition and essential ecosystem services”, he stated.

According to him, the objective is to have a strong soil partnership which can govern what is happening within different soil actors and users of the soil globally. He stated that the essence is to have a governance body which regulates and brings about policy dialogues aimed at improving soils for different purposes.

Mr. Bukar Tijani further averred that people in Africa, people who depend on the soil and people who have the mandate of the use of the soil, ought to protect the soil to support land use and to ensure healthier soils.

“One of our focuses is to come out with an action plan based on the recommendations of the fertilizer summit of 2006 in Abuja. We will do a follow up on these to proffer advice to member countries and all land users”.

On coastal and marine erosion, Mr. Bukari Tijani says, Governments and concerned international partners would have to fashion out ways of curbing a further destruction of the environment because climate change is making the seas to rise heightening the fear of the destruction of homes and major sources of livelihoods of people.

“Soil has not been given prominence as other entities that contribute to livelihood. It is therefore our duty to ensure that the soil is protected and given the needed prominence it deserves”, he added.

The regional soil partnerships were established among interested and active stakeholders to establish an interactive consultative process with national soils entities as well as with regional soil science societies and other relevant regional mechanisms under the related conventions.

The African Soil Partnership was launched during February and March 2013, with events in Accra, Ghana and Nairobi, Kenya.

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