Neten Dorji | Trashiyangtse

Bhutan loses three to 21 tonnes of fertile topsoil per hectare annually to soil erosion, according to a study conducted by the National Soil service Centre (NSSC).

A land management specialist, Tashi Wangdi, said Bhutan would not be able to achieve food sufficiency and security if there is no investment in soil management.

The statement was made while Bhutan joined the 194 countries of the United Nations to combat desertification and land degradation in Khamdang gewog of Trashiyangtse yesterday.

The day to combat desertification was observed to create awareness on the adverse effects of desertification, land degradation, sustainable agriculture and climate change.

The event was also organised to sensitize and to implement sustainable land management practice to combat land degradation.

Tashi Wangdi said the day was observed to educated people and raise awareness on the importance of soil, sustainable management for food security, hunger eradication, climate change, poverty reduction, sustainable development and eco-system function.

He said that soils are non-renewable resources in the human lifetime. “It takes up to 1,000 years to produce two to three centimetre of soil. We cannot replace all the soil that we lose. Soil preservation is essential for food security and a sustainable future.”

Trashiyangtse dzongdag, Thuje Tshering, said that it is important to know soil management and continue scaling up the best sustainable soil management practices to improve soil productivity.

He said that about three percent of land is cultivable land in Bhutan. “Farmers have to cultivate even on a cliff and steep slopes and we need land management.”

Officials from NSSC said that individuals, agencies, policy makers and governments have to recognize the problem of soil degradation and support soil management.

“Central government and local government need to make an effort and has to invest in sustainable soil management to save the future,” an official said.

The officials also said that farmers are complaining about their soil becoming hard. “It is mainly due to the maximum usage of fertilizer and chemicals without testing the soil.”

He said that it is important to test the soil first and use the fertilizer and any chemicals according to the results.

Khamdang mangmi, Sangay Tempa, said they experienced major soil-related problems such as infertile soil, water problem, landslides and soil erosion. “Farmers had no idea that there were measures to combat soil problems. But now we know we to save our fertile land.”

Meanwhile, there were 19 stalls to showcase various technologies related to soil and sustainable management by different agencies, corporation and private sectors.

NSSC organised the land management programme with financial support from Bhutan Trust Fund, United Nation Convention to combat desertification and Trashiyangtse dzongkhag.