Critical issues related to soil degradation and soil health were highlighted at the World Food Forum 2023 in Rome, Italy, highlighting their role in addressing food insecurity and environmental challenges. Organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the event explored the use of new technologies in soil and water management to address climate change and its impacts.
Highlights of the event include:
Qu Dongyu, Director-General of FAO, stressed the importance of developing and strengthening integrated information systems to address multi-sectoral challenges and to make this information accessible to farmers, who are the custodians of natural resources.
Soil degradation, loss of water quality and increasing water scarcity have been identified as global challenges. These problems limit access to fertile soil and water resources and contribute to food and nutrition insecurity.
The Forum showcased innovations to re-carbonise soil, improve soil health and increase water use efficiency.
The Forum highlighted the need for climate-smart land, soil and water management practices to improve land and water productivity. It also emphasised the sustainable management of headwater and upper watershed ecosystems, such as mountains, grasslands and forests, which are considered essential to ensure a reliable and healthy water supply.
According to the FAO, average global crop yields could be increased by up to 80% through practices such as more efficient water use, careful fertiliser application, reduced pesticide use and improved soil health.
Policies were discussed that emphasise support for innovative technologies such as precision agriculture, remote sensing and data analysis. These technologies can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of integrated soil and water management.
The World Food Forum’s focus on soil and water management is consistent with the broader goals of addressing food security and environmental sustainability in the context of climate change. Improving soil health and preventing soil degradation are key steps towards achieving these goals.
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