5 December: World Soil Day
The World Soil Day was observed across the world on December 5, 2018. The day is observed annually to highlight the importance of healthy soil and advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.
2018 Theme: The theme of the day this year is 'Be the Solution to Soil Pollution'. The campaign aims to raise awareness regarding soil pollution and call people to #StopSoilPollution.
About Soil Pollution
As pollution rises across the world, the soil is also getting affected. Around one-third of global soils have already degraded.
Soil pollution can be invisible and seems far away but everyone everywhere is affected due to it.
With the population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, soil pollution is a worldwide problem that is not only leading to the degradation of soil across the globe but is also resulting in the poisoning of food, water and air.
Soils have a great potential to filter and buffer contaminants, degrading and attenuating the negative effects of pollutants, but its capacity is finite.
Most of the pollutants originate from human activities such as unsustainable farming practices, industrial activities and mining, untreated urban waste and other non-environmental friendly practices.
With the evolution of technology, scientists have been able to identify previously undetected pollutants, however, these technological improvements have also led to the release of new contaminants into the environment.
How to combat the problem?
In the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals 2, 3, 12, and 15 have targets that commend direct consideration of soil resources, especially soil pollution and degradation in relation to food security.
Combating soil pollution requires all nations to join forces and turn determinations into action. Hence the campaign- ‘Be the solution to soil pollution’.
Soil: A solution to combating climate change?
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the soil holds three times as much carbon as the atmosphere and can help meet the challenges of a changing climate.
The organisation said that 815 million people are food insecure and 2 billion people are nutritionally insecure, but it can be mitigated through the soil, as 95 per cent of the food comes from soil and 33 per cent of the global soils are already degraded.
On the occasion, Indian Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu called upon all the citizens of the country to take a pledge to maintain the purity of soil.
In a tweet, the Vice President said, it is the duty of every human being to protect the most critical component of nature. He said that it is time that people should move towards nature and organic farming and must learn to protect the purity of soil and mother earth.
What has India done to prevent soil pollution?
The Union Government has launched nationwide the soil health card scheme to take care of soil health for the first time in a uniform manner to evaluate the soil fertility across the country.
According to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, over 15 crore soil health cards have been distributed to the farmers across the country.
The soil health card provides information to the farmers on the fertility status of their soil and enables them to apply soil health card based recommended dosages of fertilizers including micro-nutrients, bio-fertilizers, manures as well as soil ameliorants.
The card is helpful in checking the declining fertility of agriculture land and improve the fertility of soils to increase productivity besides enhancing farmers income.
The dedicated international day to celebrate soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002.
Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations supported the formal establishment of WSD as a global awareness raising platform.
The FAO Conference unanimously endorsed World Soil Day in June 2013 and requested its official adoption at the 68th UN General Assembly.
In December 2013 the UN General Assembly responded by designating December 5, 2014 as the first official World Soil Day.
The date, December 5, was chosen because it corresponds with the official birthday of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, who officially sanctioned the event.
In 2016, the day was officially recognised in the memory of the monarch, who passed away in October 2016 after being the head of state of Thailand for the past seven decades.