A visit to the doctor often begins with a stethoscope to assess the heart and lungs because before you treat someone, you need to know how they are. Similarly, to guarantee healthy soils for sustainable agriculture and food production, you first need to know their condition, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) says in this news article.
Soils are the starting point of food and agriculture. Without healthy soils to provide nutrients, water and air for plant growth and development, we cannot grow the nutritious food we need to lead healthy lives.
Yet, soil degradation is a global problem. Currently, around one third of the world’s soils is degraded. The situation will continue to worsen if we do not take action.
FAO’s Global Soil Doctors Programme started to do just that —assessing the condition of soils and guiding farmers in remedying soil problems. The educational material and training modules from this programme help farmers to stay vigilant and responsive to soil health, a vital component of their livelihoods.
Implemented by FAO as part of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP), the Soil Doctors programme provides a space for learning, interaction and dialogue between different actors concerned about the proper use and conservation of soils. In addition to sharing diagnostic tools for soil health and implementing practices that avoid soil degradation, this initiative enhances agricultural outputs and consequently, increases nutritious produce and farmers’ incomes.
In collaboration with national partner institutions, extension services or academia, that work as “promoters” for the programme, FAO is helping to educate, train and support local farmers to manage their soil better.
Champion farmers enrolled and trained in the programme become “certified” as soil doctors, teaching others about these practices and helping their communities to safeguard this vital resource.
Visit this page on the FAO website to meet some of the soil doctors worldwide.