World Soil Day is held annually on 5 December as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources. The establishment of an international day to celebrate soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences in 2022. After being endorsed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) conference in 2013, World Soil Day was formally recognized by the UN General Assembly.

World Soil Day is marked under the theme “Soil and Water, a Source of Life”. World Soil Day 2023 and its campaign aim to raise awareness of the importance and relationship between soil and water in achieving sustainable and resilient agri-food systems. World Soil Day is a unique global platform that not only celebrates soils but also empowers and engages citizens around the world to improve soil health.

In the face of climate change and human activity, our soils are being degraded due to the excessive pressure to meet the demands of human needs. Land and soil degradation pose a major threat to global food security therefore these need to be addressed to ensure food security, livelihoods, and health for all.

To focus attention on the importance of healthy soil for a healthy life and to advocate for the adoption of sustainable soil management World Soil Day is held annually on the 5th December.
The key message for World Soil Day 2023:

1. Soil and water are essential resources for sustaining life on Earth

· Soil and water provide the foundation of food production, ecosystem and human well-being. Recognizing their invaluable roles, we can take proactive measures to safeguard these resources for future generations.

· Soil erosion and compaction disrupt the capacity of soil to store, drain and filter water, and intensify the risk of flood and landslides

· Soil and water are the medium in which plants grow and obtain essential nutrients

· Healthy soil plays a crucial role as a natural filter, purifying and storing water as it infiltrates into the ground

2. Soil and water are interconnected resources that need integrated management.

· The health of the soil and the quality and availability of water are interconnected

· Implementing sustainable soil management practices enhances water availability for agriculture. Healthy soils, enriched with organic matter, play a crucial role in regulating water retention and availability

3. Improper soil and water management practices affect soil erosion, soil biodiversity, soil fertility, and water quality and quantity

· Water scarcity leads to the loss of soil biodiversity, while leaching and eutrophication from agriculture practices leads to the loss of biodiversity in water bodies.

· The mismanagement of pesticides and fertilizers not only threatens soil and water quality but also poses significant risks to human health and ecosystems.

4. Soil and water conservation contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation

· Improved soil and water management improves the land & its capacity to withstand extreme climate events such as droughts, floods, and sand/dust storms.

· Integrated soil and water management practices provide essential ecosystem services, supporting life on earth and enhancing ecosystem resilience.

· Healthy soils act as a carbon sink, by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, thus contributing to both climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Therefore keeping in mind the importance of soil, the Department of Soil and Water Conservation has been working on the soil and water conservation-related concerns of our state, since its establishment, by carrying out different activities and measures through schemes under the State Plan and central projects. The department has also worked out various measures to address the several challenges and ways forward. Of late the ambitious scheme of The Government of India to issue Soil Health Cards to farmers has been taken up by the Department. To date, 42,104 Soil Health Card has been issued and this year the department will be issuing 14800 Soil Health Cards covering 74 blocks and distributing micronutrients for soil health and fertility and works are in progress for setting up Bio-fertilizer Production units to ensure sustainable soil management.

So today on this auspicious day let us appreciate this incredible natural resource, the anchor of ecosystems and the source of our food and take steps to protect our soil.

Once again, I wish you all a Happy World Soil Day!

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