Context: Food security is one of the core indicators of economic development. The modernisation of agriculture has brought huge dividends in terms of ensuring food security to large swathes of people, apart from improving crop production.
A key element of sustainable food production is healthy soil because nearly 95 percent of global food production depends on soil. The current status of soil health is worrisome.
Soil degradation on an unprecedented scale is a significant challenge to sustainable food production:
- About one-third of the earth’s soils is already degraded and alarmingly, about 90 per cent could be degraded by 2050 if no corrective action is taken.
- While soil degradation is believed to be occurring in 145 million hectares in India, it is estimated that 96.40 million hectares — about 30 per cent of the total geographical area — is affected by land degradation.
- Globally, the biophysical status of 5,670 million hectares of land is declining, of which 1,660 million hectares (29 per cent) is attributed to human-induced land degradation, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s ‘State of Land, Soil and Water’ report.
The Way Forward
- The time has come for collective global action involving governments and civil society to reverse this alarming trend.
- With the threat to food security looming large globally, compounded by the attendant hazard of serious damage to the environment, the need of the hour is to adopt innovative policies and agro-ecological practices that create healthy and sustainable food production
- Reduce dependence on pesticides worldwide: Extensive use of fertilisers and pesticides led to the deterioration of soil health and contamination of water bodies and the food chain, which pose serious health risks to people and livestock.
- As soil is a fragile and finite resource, sustainable land management practices are essential to ensure healthy soil. They are critical not only to preventing degradation but also to ensuring food security. Every effort must also be made to prevent soil erosion as it not only affects fertility but also increases the risk of floods and landslides.
- To address soil salinization (Salinity is the presence of salts (such as sodium chloride, magnesium, and calcium sulfates) and bicarbonates, in soil and water.):
- Soil washing- Stagnate water and flush it out, but if the water table is affected this might not yield result.
- Chemical treatment- Use of Gypsum to counter salinity
- Isolating the canal water by building side walls.
- Proper choice of agricultural practices and crops.
- Discourage borewell instead do rain water harvesting using pits.
- Natural farming and organic farming are not only cost-effective but also lead to improvement in soil health and the farmland ecosystem.
Soil health card scheme
- Soil health cards have been distributed to about 23 crore farmers – Improved the health of the soil + benefited innumerable farmers by increasing crop production and their incomes.
- India is well on course to achieving the restoration of 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 – A decrease in the use of chemical fertilisers in the range of 8-10 per cent as a result of the application of fertilisers and micro-nutrients as per the recommendations on the soil health cards. Overall, an increase in crop yields to the tune of 5-6 per cent was reported as a result.
Save Soil Campaign
- By Sadhguru, Isha Foundation
Source: The Indian Express