By Motselisi Sekonyela
A group of ten young Basotho from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) in the Master of Science in Soil Science stream have come together to join in the global initiative of “Save Soil” led by an Indian spiritual healer, Sadhguru.
The organisation’s founder in Lesotho, Mamoshoeshoe Ncholu, 22 said the global movement aims to unite governments, leaders and citizens together in support for government policies for soil regeneration. Therefore as soil scientists in Lesotho, they felt the need to be a part of this global awareness campaign.
“What inspired us to join the movement are the soil-related challenges that we are facing as a country. 22% of the 2.2 million population in the country is facing food insecurity. Soil loss through erosion is currently estimated at about 13.2 tons per hectare totaling 40, 000 tons per annum. The loss of top soil with its higher organic content is also accompanied by loss of nutrients leading to overall impoverishment of land and reduction in the soil horizon according to FAO, 2005,” Ncholu said.
Ncholu further noted that the average organic content of Lesotho soils is less than 0.5%. “Our planet is losing ability to grow food because of alarming rapid degradation of soil as 95% of food comes from soil. A handful of soil takes thousands of years to form yet we are losing 75 billion tons every year of this resource we can never replace, that is most critical for human life. With the current state of things, experts show that we are only left with 60 years of agriculture,” she said.
However, Ncholu says that these challenges can be overcome if it becomes each person’s responsibility to treat soil as a valuable, living entity.
The Save Soil-Lesotho group is playing their part by travelling all across the country visiting high schools, radio stations and ministries such as the youth and agriculture ministries as well as organisations like the United Nations.
“I can say slowly but surely we are getting there as we are already in action. It is our main goal to be on the road every day for at least 100 days visiting village to village in Lesotho raising awareness,” Ncholu said. In order to successfully accomplish their mission, however, the group needs sponsorship for transportation and food, therefore are pleading with potential sponsors to reach out.
Notable successes so far for the Save Soil- Lesotho initiative is that the Ministry of Youth granted them access to all high schools in the country, of which they have visited three already. They are also in collaboration with the Save Soil- South Africa that has so far assisted them with printed shirts.
The major challenge they are still facing is that of limited resources as they currently do not have a sponsor. This impedes on their mission to reach as many places as possible to raise awareness.
The organisation’s future plans include being accessible to every farmer in the country to inspire them to archive the minimum threshold of 3-6% of organic matter. They also have plans of facilitating the carbon credit incentives for farmers. “The current processes for farmers to access carbon credit benefits are too far complex and therefore need significant simplification,” Ncholu explained.
Also in the works for the organisation is the development of a mark of superior quality for food grown from soils that have the target 3 and above organic content level. This is because currently food are all generally distinguished as either organic or inorganic and this they say is an injustice to really superior quality soil that produces food of that caliber.
The organisation can be reached at savesoil.org, Save Soil Lesotho on Facebook and savesoills on Twitter.