Soil Week (FAO) Festivities in Turkey

5According to a law that was enacted in 1945, Turkey has an official soil week in June that aims to highlight the importance of soils. As the UN designated 2015 as the International Year of Soils, relevant partners joined forces with FAO to raise awareness and facilitate a discussion platform on the status of soils in Turkey during this soil week.

Ministry of Food, Livestock and Agriculture, Chamber of Agriculture Engineers (ZMO), Soil Science Society of Turkey, Ankara University Faculty of Agriculture and TEMA Foundation organized a full day symposium that looks at the soils from climate change, food security and socio-economic aspects, examining some significant soil protection laws in Turkey in the context of sustainable use of soils.

Referring to the role of soils in adapting to climate change and constituting the foundation of vegetation and agriculture, Aysegul Akin, FAO Assistant Representative of Turkey, highlighted that the health of our planet’s soils is under constant and increasing threats.  “33% of our global soil resources are currently under degradation. It can take up to a thousand years to form one centimeter of soil and this same centimeter can be destroyed by creeping degradation much, much faster.” she added.

In the session where international framework was presented to the participants, Ines Beernaerts, FAO’s land and water officer, gave an insight on the Global Soil Partnership (GSP)–FAO’s international initiative to improve global governance of limited soil resources. FAO and Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock have been collaborating in supporting the development of an Implementation Plan for moving into concrete field action for soils at local, national and regional levels. In addition to the GSP, the collaboration is enhanced with the help of a soil project under FAO-Turkey Partnership Programme that aims at enhancing the quality and availability of soils data and information in Turkey.

Following the soil symposium, a press conference was held at the Chambers of Agriculture Engineers. In the joint press statement, the unsustainable use of soils due to desertification, pollution and urbanization was highlighted. In his closing remarks, Gokhan Soylemezoglu, the Dean of Ankara University Faculty of Agriculture, drew attention to the alarming levels of arable land at national and global levels.