Managing the Soils That Nourish Us
By: CNFA Farmer-to-Farmer Team
This article is a contribution to a four-week blog series celebrating 30 years of USAID’s John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program.
From November 16 – December 11, 2015, partners of the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program are sharing their knowledge and experience in providing volunteer technical assistance to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses, service providers, and other agriculture sector institutions in developing and transitional countries. Closely aligned with Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, the F2F Program works to support inclusive agriculture sector growth, facilitate private sector engagement in the agriculture sector, enhance development of local capacity, and promote climate-smart development. Targeted volunteer assignments address host-led priorities to expand economic growth in ways which increase incomes and improve access to nutritious food. This blog series aims to capture and share the experiences of hosts, volunteers, and program partners.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared 2015 the International Year of Soils – underscoring the importance of soil as a factor in achieving global food security. While 95% of our food comes from soils, FAO estimates that 33% of global soil is moderately to highly degraded due to erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification, chemical pollution and nutrient depletion (Source: FAO)
To mitigate the potentially devastating effects of soil degradation, the Farmer-to-Farmer program strategically develops assignments which focus on soil management and conservation to improve agriculture production. As part of these assignments, volunteers address soil fertility challenges with organic matter building techniques, such as composting, mulching, use of green manures, and the incorporation of legumes to conserve the health of soils in the long term. Through improving soil conditions, farmers can significantly improve the quality, and quantity, of their crops, and keep soils healthy for continued production into the future. CNFA is pleased to reflect upon past innovative and successful soil management assignments to highlight some volunteer all-stars who helped farmers in Southern Africa better manage this vital natural resource.