The United Nations (UN) climate changes conference in Germany tagged “International Year of Soils” has come to an end with scientist and environmental advocates estimating that nearly a third of the world’s soil is degraded, with the figure closer to two-thirds in sub-Saharan Africa, NaijaAgroNet reports.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that the one week-long conference reports that 34 of Africa’s 54 countries have over 20 percent in either the amount of land degraded or the amount of population affected by land degradation.
Emphasizing the importance of soil, NaijaAgroNet gathered that the experts view the soil as one of the most important resources obtainable, if not the most important. They further substantiate that it sustains all our agricultural and livestock food production, wood for fuel production, filters water so that we can drink it and fish can live in it, as well as useful for construction – therefore sustaining our homes and infrastructure.
It further maintained as NaijaAgroNet learnt, that in Africa, the issue of land degradation (a decline in land quality caused by human activities) and soil fertility decline is deeply complex with intertwining and cyclical causes. These range from poverty, inadequate farming techniques, and poor inherent soil qualities to population pressure, to insecure land tenure and climate change, amongst other factors.
Stating also that if these are issues are not addressed, the cycle of poor land management will result in higher barriers to food security, agricultural development for smallholder farmers and wider economic growth for Africa.
According to Agriculture for Impact (A4I), an independent advocacy initiative, NaijaAgroNet gathered that the economic loss as a result of land degradation is estimated at approximately N13.5 trillion ($68 billion) per annum.
It further advocates that better land management practices could deliver approximately N279 trillion ($1.4 trillion) globally in increased crop production which is 35 times the losses.
NaijaAgroNet also learnt that a 2008 report on the “Global Assessment of Land Degradation” by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and partners offered some shocking insights and surprises into the degree of soil degradation in some African countries.
The African countries on the UN watch list as NaijaAgroNet gathered would be the dry land African countries around the Mediterranean and Middle East and relatively small areas in the Maghreb and the Nile delta.
The conference NaijaAgroNet gathered, advocates that the rate of soil nutrient depletion is a factor that must be considered when ranking which countries should be on the soil watch list, as an important concern directly linked to food insecurity in developing countries due to the intensification of land use for agricultural production.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that 650 people from 80 countries gathered in Germany for the conference that brought together scientists and environmental advocates to discuss climate change’s increasingly hottest topic - soil.
Daniel Nsolibe /Ed,Ops.
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