Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Can Organic Agriculture Combat Desertification?

"The 2008 theme of the Day is “Combating Land Degradation for Sustainable Agriculture” and because the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements representing over 700 members in more than 100 countries is convinced that Organic Agriculture can contribute significantly to mitigate and even reverse the negative impacts of unsustainable land use and to stem further desertification it joins the international community to mark 17 June World Day to Combat Desertification.

Desertification refers to land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities like conventional agriculture. Desertification is caused mainly by overcultivation, overgrazing, deforestation and poor irrigation practices, which result in organic matter loss, soil contamination, erosion, soil compaction and sealing, salinization and long-term loss of natural vegetation.

The international community has long recognized that desertification is a major economic, social and environmental problem of concern to many countries in all regions of the world. As early as 1977, the United Nations Conference on Desertification (UNCOD) adopted a Plan of Action to Combat Desertification (PACD). Unfortunately, despite this and other efforts, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) concluded in 1991 that the problem of land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas had intensified, although there were "local examples of success".

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