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FAO chief urges 'new approaches' to fight soil loss

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FAO chief urges 'new approaches' to fight soil loss

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The world must boost land productivity and safeguard ecosystems to combat land degradation, desertification and drought and feed its population, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization director-general Qu Dongyu, said on Wednesday.


"Business as usual is not an option," Qu said, according to an FAO statement.

"We need new approaches for land use to increase productivity, while avoiding soil degradation, pollution and protecting ecosystems and biodiversity," Qu said.

Over two billion hectares of previously productive land is now degraded and drought and water scarcity have amplified the problem, Qu underlined.

Qu was speaking at RECSOIL: Recarbonization of global soils , a virtual event convened by FAO on the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. The theme of this year's international day is "Food.Feed.Fibre. Sustainable consumption and production".

Qu said agricultural production, food transportation, distribution and trade were facing new challenges, particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic, and urgent action was needed to stop land and soil damage and decline.

As demand increases for food, animal feed and fibre for paper, energy, clothing, and other uses, climate change is worsening the health and productivity of existing arable land is declining, said Qu.

Up to 44 percent of the world's cultivated systems lands are in drylands, and dryland areas are home to 30 percent of the global population, spanning more than 100 countries, he noted.

To support farmers, give them incentives to manage soil sustainable management and bolster organic carbon stocks, FAO and its Global Soil Partnership have established RECSOIL, according to the statement.

Recarbonized soils can mitigate climate change as healthy soils are essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building resilience to climate change by maintaining or increasing their carbon content, the statement said.

FAO is also preparing a specific programme on drylands and water scarcity to prevent soil erosion and promote sustainable soil and rangeland management as well as crop diversification, said the statement.

Qu stressed the need to support farmers by making innovative tools available to them as well as financial incentives to implement best practices.

Qu noted that the upcoming International Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 that will be co-led by FAO and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), will provide a vehicle to accelerate action aimed at restoring the world ecosystems and sustainably providing goods and services from natural resources.



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