Maria Elder-Ratutokarua the Sustainable Land Management Adviser from SPC.Photo:SUPPLIED


With the aim of promoting the importance of soils to our daily living and at the same time promoting sustainable land management for healthy living and soil and food security, the Ministry of Agriculture recently conducted awareness programs across the divisions.


At Vunaniu in Serua, men, women, youth and children gathered with officials and stakeholders to commemorate World Day to Combat Desertification as well as celebrate the 2015 International Year of the Soils.


The observance calls for a change in our land use practices through smart agriculture and adaptation to changing climate especially in the dry fragile parts of the world where food shortages are becoming more and more severe.


The Ministry’s deputy secretary corporate services Maca Tulakepa who was chief guest at the event said that the impact of land degradation and climate change has become a major concern in the global environmental agenda.


“The United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification/Degradation [UNCCD] was born out of these concerns and motivated by the recognition of the growing scarcity and loss of natural resources,” she said.


One of the most compelling arguments for the negotiation of the UNCCD she said was the acknowledging of climate change and land degradation because it represents one of the greatest challenges to sustainable development.


She said that these are issues that transcend national borders and require action on national, regional and global fronts to address the critical inter-linkages between climate change, land and food security.


Maria Elder-Ratutokarua, the Sustainable Land Manager (SLM) Adviser of Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) said that soils are important for food security and essential eco-system functions.


“Most people don’t realize that just beneath our feet lies a diverse, complex, life-giving ecosystem that sustains our entire existence andI believe very often we tend to take soils for granted, just like we take the sunshine and rain for granted.”


She said many people believed that the topic of soil is not a very exciting one but is essential for growing food, yet few people speak out for them.


Ms Ratutokarua added many people speak a lot on the importance of sustainable food systems for healthy lives but little do they know it starts with soils.


“Soils constitute the foundation of vegetation, agriculture and forests need it to grow but now soil are at risk from deforestation, urbanisation, bad agricultural practices such as leaving fields uncovered, farming on slopes, burning, over-grazing and mono-cropping in which all accelerate erosion, reduce biodiversity in soils and reduce organic matter.


“There is a need to protect soils in order to produce food, feed, fiber, fuel, clothes and cultural purposes shelter and energy.


“Soil store and filter water are needed to be kept and protected as they are essential for our well-being,” she said.


The challenge she said is to ensure that growing rural and urban populations have access to safe and nutritious food at all times and healthy soils are critical to sustainable agriculture and whole ecosystem.


The WDCD day is observed worldwide on 17 June annually. The focus this year is “attainment of food security for all through food systems,” with the slogan “No such thing as a free lunch. Invest in healthy soil.”

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