Blog by Han de Groot, Executive Director of UTZ Certified.
One of my more unusual resolutions for 2015 was to spend more time thinking about soil.
Yes, that’s right. Soil. Mud. Earth. The dirty stuff in the back garden. The UN wants to get all of us thinking and talking about soil, so much so that it has named 2015 the International Year of Soils.
Why soil, I hear you ask?
You might think there is plenty of it to go around, but in fact soil is a non-renewable resource. Soil contains an estimated half of the world’s biodiversity; it absorbs and purifies water and air; and of course, it is the basis of food production on our planet. Healthy soil even contributes to mitigating climate change, by maintaining or increasing its organic carbon content.
Yet intensive farming methods, soil erosion and deforestation can strip soil of nutrients. If farmers are going to sustain their livelihoods, and if we’re going to meet the needs of the world’s growing population, we need to respect the soil that nourishes us.
That’s why soil management is a vital part of our Code of Conduct, the requirements followed by farmers in the UTZ program. Farmers ensure that nutrients in the soil are replenished, and soil erosion is avoided. This contributes to producing a high yield of a good quality crop out of their land – not just this year, but over the years to come as well. Ultimately that means they will be able to maintain or even increase their income. Better for farmers, and better for all of us, who depend on soil in ways we rarely think about.
So that’s why, along with the UN, I will be taking the time in 2015 to think about soil; a resource that has been taken for granted for far too long.