96m hectares of India’s land is degraded: Basics Explained


Land, all over the world, faces degradation due to over-exploitation of land through unsustainable farming practices, mining and deforestation over the century .

Over 29% (96.4 million hectares) of India’s total geographical area (328.7 million hectares) is degraded. If looked at this phenomena globally, where the land has lost its topsoil that supports life, the extent of degradation in terms of losing soil fertility goes up to 40%, threatening roughly half of the global GDP.

If the current land degradation trends continue, it would disrupt food supply and lead to rapid biodiversity loss and  and species extinctions in this century itself.

Globally, the countries have, under a UN Convention already decided to restore one billion hectares of degraded  land by 2030. India, on its part, has been working to 26 million hectares of the country’s degraded land by that. that year. It voluntarily pledged to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) by 2030.

Under LDN, the quantity and quality of land resources stay steady or increase, taking into account degradation and restoration. If a country achieves LDN, there will be no net loss in terms of land degradation.

Regenerative practices including nature-positive food production in rural landscapes, and greening the urban areas  through planting trees and protecting whatever the vegetation.

Zero budget natural farming (ZBNF):

Restoring soil fertility by regenerating organic content and microorganism is one of the key components of the whole land restoration exercises.

The ZBNF guides the farmers towards sustainable farming practices, which helps not only in retaining soil fertility but also ensuring low cost of production and thereby enhancing the farmers income.

Watershed interventions immediately. Watershed management initiatives include afforestation and other programmes aimed at conserving soil and water.

Indian efforts:

As a signatory to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), India is committed to reducing its land degradation and desertification.

The Government of India is implementing a five-pronged strategy for soil conservation, including,

Making soil chemical-free; Saving soil biodiversity; Enhancing SOM; Maintaining soil moisture and

Mitigating soil degradation and preventing soil erosion.

India has been working to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land throughout the country by 2030 and voluntarily pledged to achieve LDN by 2030.

India is currently pitching for fertilizers/pesticides-free ZBNF and soil health cards (SHC) scheme informs farmers of the status of soils, providing a ground for multiple actions for restoring soil fertility.

The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana prevents soil erosion, regeneration of natural vegetation, rainwater harvesting and recharging of the groundwater table.

In addition, the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) has schemes promoting traditional indigenous practices such as organic farming and natural farming.

The FAO is collaborating with the –

National Rainfed Area Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare to develop forecasting tools to make informed decisions on crop choices.


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