Media CenterExpert Panel to Discuss Soil Restoration as Solution to Global Hunger at Hill Briefing
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Catholic Relief Services
Restoring Degraded Soils Is Most Important Investment the U.S. Can Make in Support of Climate Change Adaptation
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WASHINGTON, DC, March 1, 2016 – Three leading experts on soil regeneration and climate-smart agriculture will discuss a major cause of food insecurity in the developing world– the worldwide degradation of soil needed for agriculture - at a public briefing for congressional staff on March 3rd.
“Soil is the cornerstone of food security and its restoration should become a major global priority,” said Roland Bunch, an international agro-ecology consultant and author of “Two Ears of Corn,” one of the presenters at the briefing.
The other presenters, Geoffrey Heinrich, senior scientist and technical advisor at Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and Dennis Garrity, UN Drylands Ambassador, both call for policies as well as incentives to promote regenerative forms of agriculture.
“With 38 percent of cropland affected worldwide, restoring degraded soils may be the single most important investment the United States can make in support of global food security,” Heinrich said.
“The good news is: We can reverse the soil degradation process and restore productivity with simple, cost-effective approaches such as using green manure/cover crops to prevent erosion and increase nutrients, and constructing terraces and check dams on hillside farms to capture the flows of water and soil during heavy rains.
The problem of poor soil quality is exacerbated by climate change that disproportionately affects poor subsistence farmers. Limited by decreasing plot sizes, poor soils and a lack of access to agricultural inputs, farmers are losing crops and income to the erratic rainfalls, more frequent droughts and heavy storms associated with climate change. Hardest hit are countries with already high rates of malnutrition and stunting.
Said Roland Bunch, “The potential for a major crisis is very high.”
CRS works with communities around the world and with the support of the U.S. government to improve soils by restoring degraded landscapes and watersheds, promoting the use of trees and cover crops which enrich the soil, improve moisture content and reduce erosion. Through these climate smart agriculture techniques, farmers have increased yields and income, and recaptured land once considered unfit to cultivate.
“Improving soils is one of the most effective ways to achieve resilience to climate change, increase food security and build a better future for smallholder farmers,” Heinrich said.
Similar approaches are also beginning to take off in the U.S., including the planting of cover crops between harvests, as farmers look for more cost-effective ways to restore eroded farmland and improve soil quality.
The briefing follows the “Cracking the Nut 2016” conference, a two-day learning event in Washington, DC that focuses on challenges as well as low-cost solutions for regenerating agriculture and rural livelihoods in developing countries. The conference is sponsored by Connexus, the Inter-American Development Bank, USAID and Catholic Relief Services.
To RSVP, please contact Kim Pozniak at [email protected]
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit crs.org or crsespanol.org and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.