Small scale Farmers Showcase Proper Soil Management Techniques during the World Soil Day 2022
Soil is one of the main resources of the biosphere and essential factor in the production of crops as well as sustainability for animals. Soil degradation is widely recognized as a severe problem, and its environmental consequences impact the livelihood of very many people in Uganda, mainly small-scale farmers. This is mostly because soil degradation causes soil quality decline, crop yield reduction, economic crisis, poverty, unemployment, and rural-urban migration.
Currently, it's estimated that about 47 percent of the soils in Uganda are gradually moving towards highly degraded. Soil salinization and solidification are major soil degradation processes threatening ecosystem and are recognized as being among the most important problems at a global level for agricultural production, food security and sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions. Despite the campaigning and spreading awareness about the importance of soil, barely any efforts happened to protect it instead the promoter of soil degradation like chemical companies are rewarded with policies that protect them. Soils have been seen as inferior resources, and negligence is shown by both the people and the governments of the world.
According to the United Nations, soil degradation has been noted globally with an estimated 33% and over the past 70 years, the level of vitamins and nutrients in food has drastically decreased, and an estimated 2 billion people worldwide suffer from lack of micronutrients, known as hidden hunger because it is difficult to detect. This growing challenge birthed the need for global awareness on the need and importance of protecting our soil hence the World Soil Day (WSD).
The World Soil Day is held annually on 5th December as a means to focus and build awareness on the importance of healthy soil and advocacy for sustainable management. This International Day to celebrate soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) working under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand within the framework of Global Soil Partnership established WSD as a global awareness raising platform.
In commemoration of the World Soil Day 2022, small scale farmers in Kimanya, Masaka district held a community engagement on the importance of preserving their soils, best soil management techniques and how they are using Agroecology to restore and preserve soils in the community. This engagement was attended by 15 small scale farmers who discussed challenges that they are facing in conserving their soils and showcased easy soil management methods that they can use to prevent soil degradation such as cover cropping, use of organic manure, crop rotation, provision of water ways and intercropping.
During the community engagement, Mr. Joseph Matovu, a soil scientist emphasized that many of the soils have been depleted because of desire for quick money and lack of awareness on the importance of having healthy soils to the livelihoods of small scale farmers. Some of the challenges in soil management that small scale farmers highlighted include solidification and salinization of the soil and loss of fertility.
“It is crucial that small scale farmers, farmers at large and the general public gain awareness, information and adopt innovative solutions to reduce the ever growing soil degradation and soil harm levels present within the country, continent and globe at large so as to completely eradicate Soil Destroyers and move towards sustainable soil practices, as our SOIL IS POWER.”- Kisakye Margaret, small scale farmer, Masaka district
Small scale farmers strongly believe that Agroecology also allows farmers to adapt to climate change, sustainability use and conserve natural resources and biodiversity. It emerges as the best way to protect and restore our soils as it maintains soil health by comprehending and addressing interactions among soil, plants, animals, people and the environment within the agricultural systems, restores ecosystem functioning, builds resilience within livelihood systems and can improve food and nutrition security.
“Making organic manure on my farm using household waste, plant materials and animal droppings has greatly changed the soil fertility on my farm. I encourage my fellow farmers to adopt organic practices if we are to restore our soils and produce nutritious foods.” – Buchana John, Small scale farmer, Masaka district
Small-scale farmers further call on the government to establish strong and strategic ties among all stakeholders, including decision-makers and the business sector, in order to facilitate knowledge development and sharing, evaluate, and develop policies and practices that support Agroecology which has proven over time that it can protect our soils.