GFAR blog

Salinity: Live with it or Fight it?


The story of food security is as old as humanity, which some believe started over 10,000 years ago. Since that time, people have worked hard to ensure their food security especially as they availed of solutions thanks to more modern scientific and technology progress as can be seen in recent history. In recent years, many seek out sustainable ways and tools to use throughout the food supply chain – these include biotechnology, intensive farming, utilization of saline soils to grow underutilised crops, zero tillage, and organic agriculture among others.

With 95% of all our food produced using soil, the development in these technologies is really at the heart of food security. But the concern with changes in these fast-paced technologies is that they can have both positive and negative impacts. So the question remains: “Is this technology an opportunity or threat?” The answers and interpretations to this question are diverse and could persuasively convince us to choose yes or no.

At the #GCARD3 Regional Consultation for Central Asia and the Caucasus in Bishkek, participants were more specifically concerned about the safety of crop products grown in saline soils. Their positions on the topic ranged.

Dr. Kristina Toderich, the Regional coordinator of  the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) for Central Asia and the Caucasus indicated that “It is better to live with salinity than fight it …”. Trends show that globally salinity is a big challenge in many parts of the world. And Dr. Toderich emphasised the importance of restoration/reclamation and the ecologically-friendly use of salt-affected lands so food security can be improved, especially in the deltas of Central Asian rivers, where soil salinity reaches up to 70%.

Another issue highlighted by Dr. Toderich is that one should have in-depth knowledge in using saline environments. This is especially true for farmers and other land users from Central Asia, who frequently don’t have agricultural backgrounds. They should understand the origins and causes of soil salinity according to each landscape along with land and water management practices. Ultimately, it will help people decide which crops can be used depending on the type of saline soil.

The major concern in Central Asia is its extremely arid climate, which exposes land to higher soil salinity than other continents and regions. There are many underutilized, even neglected but quite promising multi-purpose crops to be considered and possibly used by farmers and others in the agro-pastoral rural communities who depend on lands with a high level of salinity. We, the younger generation, must help in better use of the land and water in order to create a better life for ourselves and future generations. It is a cornerstone to our food security.


Blogpost by Mahinakhon Suleymanova, #GCARD3 Social Reporter –mahinakhon.suleymanova(a)

Picture courtesy of International Center for Biosaline Agriculture

This post is part of the live coverage during the #GCARD3 Regional Consultation for Central Asia and the Caucasus. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.

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