New report of FAO on soil shows 55 percent of countries surveyed lack adequate capacities for soil analysis



Rome – As it marks World Soil Day, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has highlighted the threat posed by soil salinization to global food security and warned that many countries still lack adequate capacity for soil analysis.

“Soil is the foundation of agriculture and the world’s farmers depend on soil to produce about 95% of the food we eat”, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said. “Yet, our soils are at risk,” he stressed in remarks ahead of the December 5 event on the theme: “Halt Soil Salinization, Boost Soil Productivity”.

Among the critical issues are:

  • Unsustainable agricultural practices and the overexploitation of natural resources as well as a growing population are putting increased pressure on soils and causing alarming rates of soil degradation globally.
  • Over 833 million hectares of soils worldwide are already salt-affected, as shown on the Global salt-affected soils map launched by FAO in October.
  • Estimates indicate that more than 10% of cropland is salt-affected, which poses a major risk to food security worldwide.
  • Some of the worst affected regions are in Central Asia, the Middle East, South America, North Africa and the Pacific.

The management of salt-affected areas demands an integrated approach, embracing sustainable soil and irrigation and drainage management, the selection of salt-tolerant crops and plants including halophytes, which are able to grow well in such environments.

Collecting soil data and building sufficient capacity in the soil laboratories of FAO Member countries is essential to manage soil-affected land resources and pave the foundation towards digital agriculture in the future.

The Director-General underlined the importance of generating reliable soil data as he announced the official launch of the Global Soil Laboratory Assessment Report. A joint effort by 241 laboratories in 142 countries, it is led by FAO’s Global Soil Partnership (GSP) and its Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN) composed of more than 760 laboratories worldwide.