World Soil Day is observed each year on 5th of December. This day marks a reminder of the role soil plays in sustaining life on Earth.
World Soil Day 2022: Soils, Where Food Begins
This year’s theme for World Soil Day is ‘Soils, where food begins. The focus, therefore, is on the effect soil degradation has on nutrition. Nutrient loss in the soil poses a major threat to food security, and therefore it is imperative that healthy soil ecosystems be maintained.
History of World Soil Day
In 2002, Vienna-headquartered International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) recommended designating a day as a reminder of the importance of soil. It was then under the leadership of Thailand, that the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) marked December 5 for this purpose. World Soil Day was celebrated on 5th December 2014 for the first time.
Save Soil Movement to Draw Attention towards Soil Conservation
Save Soil Movement is an initiative by the Isha Foundation, an Indian non-profit organisation, to address the issue of soil degradation, and spread awareness about the importance of soil health.
This initiative was presented at United Nations (UN), Geneva, Switzerland, on 5th April 2022 with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO), UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) lab, and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Emphasising the importance of soil, Mr. Jagadish Vasudev, founder of the Isha Foundation, stated, “Food doesn’t come from Uber Eats, it comes from soil. The healthier the soil, the healthier your food, the healthier your body”
He further elaborated that the first step towards soil health is to start locally and to involve one’s neighbourhood in soil conservation activities.
Save Soil Movement gets Widespread Govt. and Industry Support
Isha Foundation’s initiative has gathered significant response from the public as well as private sectors.
Government Support for the Movement
Karnataka’s Chief Minister, Mr. Basavaraj Bommai stated on 8th October 2022 that the state government had already pitched in Rs. 100 crore for the Save Soil Movement.
Additionally, several state governments such as the Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa governments have inked MoUs with Isha Outreach, an arm of the Isha Foundation, for better soil utilisation and soil conservation.
Industries and Firms Contributing to the Initiative
Some notable Indian sponsors and donors of the movement include Tube Investments of India Limited, Wonder Cement Ltd., Hero FinCorp, Kraft Wires and Cables, Railway Track component manufacturer Patil Group, AU Small Finance Bank, PVR Cinemas, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, and the State Bank of India (SBI).
International firms such as Belgium’s major retail player Colruyt Group, Guyana-based construction firm Gaico, and California-based automation software company Kofax Inc. are amongst the movement’s major supporters.
Save Soil Movement to Push for Soil Conservation Policies in 193 Nations
As stated by Isha Foundation, currently the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) of 1994 is the only legally-binding agreement that focuses on sustainable land use.
Save Soil Movement targets to influence people across the globe to support policies that would be in the interest of soil conservation. The foundation seeks to drive policies in 193 countries that focus on maintaining the minimum percentage of organic content in soil between 3% to 6%.
Agricultural & Industrial Malpractices Catalysts for Soil Nutrient Drain
Improper agricultural and industrial practices lead to soil losing its nutrients, resulting in a dearth of micronutrients in the food that is grown. This phenomenon is often termed ‘hidden hunger’ since deficiencies of essential micronutrients go unnoticed until they manifest themselves as some disease.
Monoculture of crops, slash-and-burn farming, and excessive pesticide and chemical use are some agricultural malpractices that degrade the quality of soil and exhaust it in the long run.
Industrial effluents that are released into landfills without requisite treatment degrade soil quality drastically. Some toxins from untreated hazardous industrial waste enter the food chain, thus posing a grave danger to all life forms. As these toxins travel up the food chain, their effect is more pronounced.