Organic agriculture key to combat land degradation: UN officials

Hundred per cent organic agriculture is key to combat land degradation and desertification, officials of the United Nations said on Friday at the conference of parties to UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Speaking at a session convened at the 14th Conference of Parties of the UNCCD at Greater Noida, Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said transition to sustainable food systems is critical for a sustainable future.

The session on 'Mainstreaming Agroecology and Organic Agriculture in India and the Himalayas' was also attended by Bhutan's Agriculture and Forest Minister Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor and former Chief Minister of Sikkim Pawan Chamling.

"The transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems is critical for a sustainable future.Both Sikkim and Bhutan show with their 100 per cent organic goals that such a transition is possible," Thiaw said.

He added, "We can learn many lessons from their exemplary actions on policy making."

The UNCCD convened the session along withthe World Future Council (WFC), a Germany-based environmental NGO.

The event was moderated by Ashok Khosla, former president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Experts pointed out that agroecology and organic agriculture in India and the Himalayas enhance fertile landscapes, protect biodiversity and improve living conditions of the local people.

WFC Executive Director Alexandra Wandel said that malnutrition, climate change and biodiversity can be tackled by scaling up organic agriculture.

"Through effective, holistic policymaking, we can transform our food systems so that they respect people and the planet. Sikkim proves that it is feasible and how," Wandel said.

"Sikkim, Bhutan and other Himalayan states are part of a growing movement pursuing organic farming and agroecology as an effective pathway for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivery on the entire 2030 Agenda. They show that achieving land degradation neutrality is no longer a pipe dream but can become reality," she said.

Sikkim was also mentioned for having been chosen for the Future Policy Gold Award 2018 last year for being the first state in the world to become fully organic.

India is hosting COP 14 to UNCCD from September 2 to September 13. It is being attended by delegates from over 195 countries to deliberate on combating land desertification and achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030.