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90pc of Earth's topsoil to be at risk by 2050: FAO

Photo: UN
Photo: UN

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A full 90 per cent of the Earth's topsoil is likely to be at risk by 2050, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN.

The UN agency Wednesday said the equivalent of one soccer pitch of earth erodes every five seconds, news agency UNB reported. 

It also takes around a thousand years to create just a few centimetres of topsoil and to help restore lands. So, the UN agency is calling for more action by countries and partners who signed up to the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) over the last decade.

The five key actions that the FAO called for tasked civilians, governments and international institutions with taking greater action to monitor and care for the soil.

One achievement of the GSP has been the partnership with farmers and local governments to enhance soil health.

Programmes were initiated to improve the amount of organic matter in the soil by adopting practices such as using cover crops, crop rotation and agroforestry, the FAO said.

Costa Rica and Mexico signed up for these pilot schemes and trained farmers in the use of best practices which included using cover crops that prevent erosion, crop rotation and tree planting.

Also, the GSP expanded data collection in the form of digital soil mapping.

This technology informs policymakers of relevant soil conditions and empowers them to make informed decisions on managing soil degradation.

Campaigns, such as International Year of Soils and World Soil Day were designed to raise youth awareness of soils and increase participation in preventing further degradation.

While the work of the GSP represents the efforts of non-state partners to promote sustainable soil practices, state policymakers are necessary actors in implementing a sustainable soil policy, the FAO said.

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