Fertile ground: harnessing the market to reverse soil degradation in South Asia
Soils are the foundation of all terrestrial life on the planet and are essential for agricultural production. Yet intensive agriculture involving heavy inputs of chemical fertilisers is degrading soils across South Asia and many other parts of the world, threatening food security. Soil fertility and structure can be vastly improved through greater applications of compost, manure and other organic fertilisers. However, the shift away from diverse farming systems means that organic matter is now in short supply on many farms. There is a need to develop value chains to enable organic fertilisers and composts to supply much needed organic matter to depleted soils. Lessons from multi-stakeholder initiatives in Bangladesh and Nepal illustrate the potential for scaling up such value chains to foster more inclusive and sustainable agriculture.