GFAR blog, Research in society

Digging deeper into soil: The future of food


It’s another rainy day in the coastal Odisha, India. The Bhitarkanika village looks drenched and dark. Meet Pampa Dolui, age 34, a single mother of two, who has adopted a grim routine over these months, digging soil outside her home to let in the saline water from the sea to enter her sweet water pond.

And she seems to be preparing to uproot the banana tree outside her hut, to create more space for saline water to come in through a freshly dug canal. While chopping the tree she tells her children, “See, the whole tree has turned brown, like rust, nothing will grow anymore, too much salt in the soil”. Now like every other fifth person in village, she is also going to rent out her saline ponds for prawn cultivation at a meager price, as that seems to be the only way to survive.

Other residents in nearby villages learned recently that staggering levels of salinity in agricultural fields will only lead them to death. Nowadays the community in Pampa’s village practices prawn cultivation, by welcoming more and more saline water into their fields, in existing ponds and even digging out more soil for other salty ponds.

One may ask what is wrong with that? To truly understand the net impact, consider that this causes complete devastation to hectares of agricultural land, and damages the fragile mangrove ecosystem to the point of no return.

Read the full post on the CFS blog here.

This blogpost covers the CFS44 side event ” Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management for the achievement of a Zero Hunger world”

Blogpost and photo by Amrita Chatterjee, #CFS44 Social Reporter – amritasafe(at) Photo: Pampa Dolui, village fish farmer

This post is part of the live coverage during the 44th Session of the Committee on World Food Security, a project supported by GFAR. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.

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