Saving Our Soils is Critical for Global Food Security
Soil is the foundation of agriculture, which makes it the most vital component of the food chain ecosystem. As aptly pointed out by Sadhguru Ji – “Right now, the most important aspect of conserving nature in the soil. If we do not stop soil degradation, the planet will not be conducive for human beings to live upon it.” Ensuring soil regeneration is the key to avoiding ecological disaster.
A rapidly growing population puts pressure on the soil to produce more
The global population is projected to reach 8 billion by Nov 2022, more than three times the population of 2.5 billion in 1950. India is projected to surpass China by 2023, and India’s population is likely to reach 1.7 billion by 2050 according to the UN report. The trend toward fresh fruits and vegetable consumption in developing countries is one of the key indications of an improved standard of living and purchasing power resulting in higher consumption of resource-intensive products. As the population grows the global food demand will surge as well. It is imperative that Agriculture produce 60-70% more food to feed nearly 10 billion people.
How can we feed the 10 billion people with depleting soil and natural resources?
The data shows that the population grows by 1 billion approx. every 12 years
Secure the Soil to Secure access to Food and Nutritional Security
Secure the soil for better access to food and nutritional security Body – Food security is achieved when people have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary demands and food preferences to maintain a healthy life. Food and nutritional security cannot be achieved without having healthy soil. Soils supply the essential nutrients, water, and root support that the crop needs to grow and flourish. However, today, soil is under immense threat of degradation.
Denudation of the upper layer of soil
Farmers are struggling to produce more crops due to soil degradation and desertification – a global threat now. The world has lost a third of its arable land in the past 40 years and two-thirds of the land used for agriculture will no longer be arable by 2050. This will have a huge impact on food security. Land degradation is creating an ecological crisis by converting soil into deserts leading to serious impacts:
• Loss of soil fertility
• Depleted water resources
• Loss of soil biodiversity
• Soil has been stripped of its natural flora and fauna due to the excessive farming practices
This has resulted in the loss of agricultural land and the extinction of animal species. In turn, this has led to a gradual decrement in the soil’s ability to absorb and store carbon. Furthermore, expanses in the cultivated area will have greater negative impact on forests and biodiversity. By 2050, the report estimates, 4 billion people will be living in dry lands.
Climate change and extreme weather conditions have a major impact on crop production and agricultural pests
Another major challenge to address in agriculture production is the crop losses due to pests and diseases. Globally, at least 40% of the crops are lost to pests every year which is a result of an increase in temperature due to climate change, and multiple harvests on cultivated land. The extensive use of synthetic pesticides has ultimately resulted in an increased incidence of pest resurgence and the appearance of pest species that are resistant to pesticides. The community of organisms living in the soil can be damaged by the misuse or overuse of pesticides, leading to loss of soil fertility. The irreversible damage dealt on the environment is resulting in severely depleted resources for humankind. It’s time we started thinking about future generations. Generations will face a shortage of food, shortage of clean air, and clean water. It is time to take pivotal steps to prevent the impending catastrophe – extinction of the agricultural land, and daunting uncertainty regarding the well-being of generations to come.
Boosting Sustainable Intensification of
Agriculture for Healthy Soils
In a recent event at Surat, Gujarat, while encouraging the efforts of Surat district authorities, our honorable PM – Shri Narendra Modi Ji emphasized –
“Adopting natural farming is akin to serving Mother Earth is also the basis for economic success.”
Saving soil health through sustainable agriculture is the key to saving the soil from nutrient loss, degradation, erosion, and depletion.
It is of paramount importance to increase the soil organic matter and nutrient availability in the soil to meet the nutritional requirement of the crops and help them to become naturally more resistant to environmental stressors.
The role of the micro managers of the soil – Microbes play a very important role in sustainable agricultural production due to their ability to promote plant growth and enhance biotic and abiotic stress resistance, remediate contaminated soils, recycle nutrients, manage soil fertility, and weather and mineralize rocks.
Bringing to the fore, IPL Biologicals Limited – India’s leading microbial solutions company that offers 50+ innovative microbial solutions by “Unlocking the power of indigenous microbes” helping farmers with soil regeneration while increasing the productivity of their crops, delivering safe, healthy, and nutritious food to the end consumer’s table. “Our revolutionary microbial solutions with high CFU count, help farmers to achieve sustainable growth from seeds to harvest”. Now is the time that we bring more focus and increase awareness toward healthy soil management practices. The ownership of this responsibility is not limited to the farmers, and food-producing organizations. This is but a shared responsibility for everyone.
While the government is making all its efforts to encourage sustainable farming practices, we recommend a few points
Act fast to reduce fertilizer subsidy and improve soil health
The fertilizer subsidy in India has significantly increased over the last few years. In the current year, the prices soared high and 2.3 L crore subsidy is to be borne by the government, exceeding the budget of 1.05 lakh crore for 2022-23.
The government is looking forward to adopting biological solutions as an alternative channel which is a great initiative. Adopting microbial will not only lead to lesser consumption of chemical fertilizer, which will help in controlling soaring chemical fertilizer subsidy, and improving not only soil health but also food quality.
Promote Integrated Pest Management
Awareness among the farmers is to be increased for the integrated use of pesticides, and along with chemicals, help make the switch to alternate methods like microbial- based biological pesticides that maintain the ecological system of soil while enhancing the nutrient efficiency in plants and produce.
Making Biological solutions affordable
Biological solutions will be the future of sustainable agriculture; hence government should consider exempting the GST. This will encourage farmers to adopt the biological solution and to reduce the cost of cultivation for the farmers. This helps tackle global challenges because of the ease of access.
To ensure food safety and nutritional security, it is critical to Monitor Residue levels across India at the state level, as a part of IPM and GAP. India needs to aggressively conduct audits and assessments in all the states to identify the crops and regions with a preponderance of pesticide residues and prevent the entry of food and commodities with pesticide residues above the maximum residue limit.
Efforts toward Integrated Pest Management and the increased adoption of biological solution in the food value chain is much-needed to protect soil health for sustainable agriculture, and ensure the food security that will support the economy of the country as well.