Scientists and experts from around the world should come up with a simple and coherent language to understand the importance of saving soil, Sadhguru said while releasing the much-awaited Global Save Soil Policy Handbook for seven regions during an international roundtable conference to mark World Soil Day.
“For the sake of common people in the world and for the political class, coming out with simple coherent language that they hear loud and clear would make a huge difference,” Sadhguru told scientists and soil experts.
The policy handbooks have been released in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, Middle East and Northern Africa, North America and Oceania. They offer practical and scientific recommendations that governments can put into action to revitalise the soil in their countries. It also released specific sustainable soil management practices for 193 countries, recommending 700 unique ways to improve soil health.
A total of 155 soil experts from 31 countries joined Sadhguru at the international roundtable. Along with Sadhguru, experts delved deeper into the strategic goals of the ‘Save Soil’ movement. Ibrahim Thiaw, executive secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD); Australian agronomist Tony Rinaudo, famously known as the ‘forest maker’; and Martin Kováč, state secretary of the ministry of agriculture and rural development of the Slovak Republic, also joined virtually. Dr Muralee Thummarukudy, director of the G20 Global Land Initiative, UNCCD, also joined the conference.
On #WorldSoilDay, an illustrious panel of global experts joined @SadhguruJV to discuss #SaveSoil and the significance of Soil as a key aspect of any meaningful ecological solution. Here's what they had to say:— Conscious Planet #SaveSoil (@cpsavesoil) December 6, 2022
Sadhguru said he was confident about policy actions by governments around the world, but expressed concern over the pace of implementation. “Without people keeping up their concern for soil in the world, democratically elected governments don’t really move at an appropriate pace. If you don’t make this an election issue, it is not going to get sorted out,” he said.
The roundtable discussed strategic goals of the movement in two separate agendas. The first agenda discussed issues and challenges to raise soil health by increasing soil organic matter. Dr Thummarukudy observed, “The law (EU soil strategy) calls for soil literacy, which means that people have to know the importance of soil and this is where the role of people like Sadhguru and the ‘Save Soil’ movement is."
“Human activities or intervention could be considered as another soil-forming factor. This is what we [the UAE] are trying to do in many of the arid and semi-arid regions to shorten the time that is required in soil formation," said Dr Ahmed H El-Naggar, International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), UAE, bringing his unique experience from a region considered a desert land.
Dr Lydie-Stella Koutika, Research Center on Productivity and Sustainability of Industrial Plantations (CRDPI), Congo, said, “If we need success in implementation, we cannot come up with practices and ignore what people have been doing before… We have to deal with traditional knowledge of farmers and we will have more success when we take into account what they know and they do know a lot when we go on the field!"
Dr Claire Chenu, coordinator, European Joint Programme - Soil, also joined the agenda sharing her input. The second agenda discussed issues and challenges in supporting farmers to improve soil health. Dr Paul Luu, executive secretary, 4 per 1,000 Initiative, France, said, “Healthy soils are really the basis of all our actions — if we want to combat climate change, to combat desertification, to combat biological diversity erosion and if we want to have food security."
“We see the adoption rate, once the incentives are removed, is less than 15%. Education is critical. A farmer or rancher cannot implement what they do not know,” said Gabe Brown, Understanding Ag, on the crucial role of incentives and educating farmers.
Speaking on similar lines, Prof Rosa Maria Poch, chair of intergovernmental technical panel on Soils, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said, “We must shift from a management that is merely using the soil to a management that has the soil as a main focus. For that, the society needs to have a better knowledge of what soils are and what they do."
Dr Alisher Mirzabaev, enviro-economist, University of Bonn, Germany, said, “Improving access to extension, to market, securing land tenure, crop diversification and other measures can help improve the adoption of sustainable land management technologies but providing these incentives often is not enough and we need more. Countries, communities could also provide incentives."
Australian agronomist Rinaudo, in a video message, said, “I encourage each one of you listening today to engage firstly at the community level, that’s where the real results occur and, secondly, I encourage you to engage at a policy level. Can you advocate within your capacity or within your group advocate for enabling policy environments that encourage farmers and communities to protect and restore the tree cover and, through that, restore the quality of the soil?"
The proceedings from the conference will be compiled and used in different forums to set the agenda to make agricultural soils healthy across the world. Earlier on ‘Save Soil Day’, Sadhguru, who is leading the movement, kickstarted the global #ScoreforSoil campaign. The campaign, against the backdrop of the FIFA World Cup, encourages people to put up a video on social media of their best football shot and #ScoreForSoil in support of the ‘Save Soil’ movement. Many leading global names are joining this global campaign to spread awareness.
The roundtable was organised by the ‘Save Soil’ movement, which was launched by Sadhguru in March to bring the world’s attention to save the dying soil. The movement is urging countries to mandate 3 to 6 percent organic content in agricultural soils around the world through policy-driven initiatives.
In March, Sadhguru undertook a 100-day, 30,000-km solo bike journey across 27 countries in Europe, Central Asia, Middle East and 11 Indian states. The movement, in a short span of time, has met with resounding success, reaching over 3.91 billion people. As many as 81 nations have committed to frame soil-friendly policies.
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