Degradation of the world's soil must be reversed: UN chief

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A farmer plants acacia seedlings in Liguere, Senegal. Photo: FAO/Seyllou Diallo

The degradation of the world's soil is highly advanced and needs to be reversed, said the UN Secretary-General on Friday.

Speaking ahead of the second World Soil Day, marked on December 5, Ban Ki-moon said that soil was the foundation of all food systems but the damage done so far, could be repaired.

Matthew Wells reports.

In his message marking World Soil Day as well as the end of the International Year of Soils, Mr Ban said that 33 per cent had already been degraded globally.

He called on the international community to reverse the alarming trend, "through sustainable soil-management practices."

He added that the careful stewardship of terrestrial ecosystems was important to mitigate the effects of climate change, pointing to soil's key role in preventing carbon-release into the atmosphere.

"Only health soils will produce healthy food," he said.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, The Status of the World's Soil Resources, pointed out that reversing the trend was entirely possible, as long as countries changed their soil management practices accordingly.

According to the FAO, the demands of a growing population for food, feed and fibre from the world's soil will increase 60 per cent by 2050.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 51″

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