Global Soils Partnership 11th Plenary
Soil Mapping for Resilient Agri-food Systems in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa (SOiLFER) Project Side Event
Opening Remarks by U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome
Chargé d’Affaires Rodney Hunter
Thursday, July 13, 2023 | 10:00AM
Good morning everyone,
I’m so happy to be here today at this side event on Soil Mapping for Resilient Agri-Food Systems, or SoilFER. Thank you for the introduction, Natalia. And thank you Lifeng Li for setting the stage for our discussions today.
Since the United States announced this U.S.-funded initiative last year, we have been eager to share the progress of the SoilFER project.
Today, we are joined by our focal points from Guatemala, Honduras, and Zambia, who will share updates on project implementation in their respective countries. It is an honor to share the stage with them, and we appreciate their efforts in advancing this critical work.
The current fertilizer crisis serves as a stark reminder of the fundamental issue of soil health and fertility. You all know better than I that at a time when prices are soaring, fertilizer is an input that farmers simply cannot afford to waste. The SoilFER project addresses this challenge by focusing on soil mapping — providing farmers with the tools and knowledge they need to make informed decisions about fertilizer use and soil management.
FAO has a proven track record in building capacity and digitizing soil maps, which have consistently demonstrated positive impacts on crop yields and sustainability. Soil mapping and better soil data form the foundation of our efforts to increase sustainability and climate resilience in agriculture. Precision agriculture, maximizing productivity with minimal inputs, all rely on accurate soil mapping to allow farmers to make informed choices.
By fostering the creation of national soil databases and soil information systems as public goods, we ensure that policymakers, the private sector, and farmers can derive long-term benefits. This approach enhances short-term flexibility and empowers us to adapt to trends in fertilizer markets and climate dynamics without compromising agricultural output.
Recognizing the importance of soils and soil mapping is a reason that we are partnering with the FAO and the African Union on the Vision for Adapted Crops & Soils, or VACS. That initiative seeks to improve soil health and fertility and strengthen resiliency with nutritious and climate-adapted indigenous crops.
Collaboration with on-the-ground partners, as well as other stakeholders, will be paramount in achieving the objectives of SoilFER. We recognize that we cannot address the challenges at hand in isolation. As was said earlier, we can only do this by working together. And by working together, we can leverage our respective strengths and expertise to create sustainable, resilient agri-food systems.
Once again, I would like to express our excitement and gratitude for partnering with the FAO on this critical work in Central America and sub-Saharan Africa. This collaboration addresses the urgent needs of the current food crisis while simultaneously building long-term resilience.
It’s exactly the sort of project we need to see more of – and we are committed to supporting the SoilFER project and to working together to achieve its objectives. We can make the world better for all of us, and this is a good start.