THE United Nations has declared 2015 as the “International Year of Soils”, and with good reason. Soil is one of the most important resources that we have, if not the most important.
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. We also use it for construction – therefore it sustains our homes and infrastructure. Soil is a crucial aspect of African economies yet many Africans are forgetting this.
With an increasingly urban society, many people are losing contact with the processes of food production, expecting to find goods on the shelves of supermarkets and have limited or even no appreciation of the role played by soil. Politicians and policy-makers are also out of the loop since the majority of soil-related print material is geared towards university level or scientific journals and out of the reach of the general public.
Unfortunately, even in the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), Africa’s policy framework for agricultural transformation, land degradation is not prioritised or reflected in the form of concrete financial commitments and projects.
A quick soil refresher: All soil is composed of mineral particles (sand, clay and silt), organic matter, air and water.
It is a “living” system in that it breathes. In fact, a healthy soil reduces the impact of climate change, storing up to 10% of the world’s CO2 emissions! Even though soil is such an integral part of our lives, it is extremely fragile.