Thailand leads charge to protect soil

Thailand leads charge to protect soil

Centre launched to promote awareness

Visitors on the anniversary of his birth observe an exhibition on King Rama IX's works at Sanam Luang. The showcase involves the late King's excellence in nine fields - Thai craftsmanship, water management, technology, artificial rain-making, innovation, Thai heritage conservation, general research, rice research and development and invention. The exhibition runs until Sunday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Visitors on the anniversary of his birth observe an exhibition on King Rama IX's works at Sanam Luang. The showcase involves the late King's excellence in nine fields - Thai craftsmanship, water management, technology, artificial rain-making, innovation, Thai heritage conservation, general research, rice research and development and invention. The exhibition runs until Sunday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Thailand launched the Centre of Excellence for Soil Research in Asia (Cesra), the world's first regional hub to promote sustainable soil management, to mark Wednesday's World Soil Day.

Located on an 800-rai plot of land in Nakhon Ratchasima's Pak Chong district, Cesra was established with an aim to promote sustainable soil management and a reliable exchange of soil data and information at the global and regional level via research and development as well as capacity building programmes, said Rapibhat Chandarasrivongs, assistant permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

The establishment of the centre was also in accordance to this year's theme "Be a solution to soil pollution", he said.

The country was earlier this year endorsed by the Global Soil Partnership, an inclusive arrangement comprising governmental organisations, academic, research institutions, civil societies, UN agencies, NGOs, private companies and donors, to host the regional centre for 24 countries.

The Land Development Department will lead the work to empower regional countries and local communities, raise awareness of soil resource care and stimulate discussion and action toward sustainable soil management among policy makers and the general public, he said. World Soil Day is held annually on Dec 5 to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has supported the formal establishment of the international day to celebrate and raise global awareness of soil. The day corresponds with the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Ronald Vagas, FAO Global Soil partnership, said the Cesra action plan and activities would be finalised during the 5th Asian Soil Partnership meeting to take place during from Feb 26 to March 1 in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, Practical Action, a Bangladesh-based NGO working on soil care was the recipient of the first World Soil Day Award for hosting the best World Soil Day event held during the 2017 communication campaign "Caring for the Planet Starts from the Ground".

The group was chosen from a total of 39 candidates from around the world including Chulalongkorn University's exhibition on soil called "Din D" and Ratchaburi's Khao Cha-Ngum Royal Study Centre for Land Degradation Development. The award is aimed at honouring individuals, communities, organisations and countries that organised remarkable and engaging World Soil Day activities or campaigns in the previous year.

Jong-Jin Kim, Deputy Regional Representative of FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, said about 33% of all soil was already degraded. Pollution was one of the 10 major threats to soil health. Growing cities produced mounds of garbage that end up in landfills with residues leaching into the soil and possibly endangering the water supply.

"One-third of the plastic produced globally ends up in our soils," he said. "Plastic particles are polluting our soils, entering the food chain and the environment -- and going into our oceans as has been so clearly and alarmingly seen in the news this year." Mr Kim said prevention of soil pollution must be a top priority worldwide. Tackling the problem through education remains the best way to maintain healthy soils and ensure food safety, he said.

They are also essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 15 and SDG 2, the Zero Hunger Goal, in which Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is a UN FAO Special Ambassador for Zero Hunger.


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