World Day to Combat Desertification:
Farmers Enhancing Soils and Enhancing Life
June 17, 2010 Paris, France – Today, on World Day to Combat Desertification, with the theme “Enhancing soils anywhere enhances life everywhere,” the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) emphasizes that poverty and economic insecurity encourage practices of overgrazing, land clearance, deforestation and over exploitation of cultivated land and water resources, which present serious risks for soil degradation. By empowering farmers to employ indigenous agricultural knowledge and to implement agro-forestry, conservation agriculture and biodiversity friendly farming systems, farmers can maximize the use of resources to restore soils thus improving local food security and preserving natural resources.
Farmer Robert Carlson, from the National Farmers’ Union of the USA , speaking at United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Land Day II in Bonn on June 5, said:
“Food security, sustainable land use, increased production, climate change and even renewable energy are all linked together in a ball that you really can’t separate if you talk about land degradation. You need to also talk about food security and you need to talk about climate change. It’s all a part of one puzzle, and we need all the pieces to fit together.”
Farmers will respond to incentives to adopt sustainable practices if it is to be advantageous for themselves and their children to do so. Financial risk is a key element in providing the incentive for sustainable changes in farming practices; if a farmer’s income is stable or increasing, she will adapt and change to take advantage of new opportunities.
Desertification and land degradation is an alarming plague that affects two billion people around the world on one-third of the land surface. African is the continent that is affected the most seriously, with 37% arid areas and nearly half of its population (325 million people). The link between poverty and land degradation has been repeatedly recognized, with the geography of poverty overlapping with drought, desertification and land degradation.
Desertification and food security are intrinsically linked. The livelihoods of more than one billion people in some 110 countries are threatened by land degradation. 135 million people are at risk, and farmers are among the first victims of this phenomenon.
IFAP Policy Recommendations on Combating Desertification and Land Degradation
IFAP is the world farmers’ organization, representing millions of family farmers grouped in 112 national organizations in 87 countries. It is a global network in which farmers from industrialized and developing countries exchange concerns and set common priorities. IFAP has been advocating farmers’ interests at the international level since 1946 and has General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. www.ifap.org