UN urges salt-damage solution to reduce threat to crops

Sugar-cane harvest

The sugar-cane harvest in India is at risk from salt damage.

About 2,000 hectares of fertile land are lost each day due to damage caused by salt, according to a UN analysis

(SOURCE)  The total area now affected is equivalent to the size of France – 62 million hectares – which has increased from 45 million 20 years ago.

Salt degradation occurs in areas of dry irrigated land with little rainfall and where there is no natural drainage.

The report is published in UN journal Natural Resources Forum.

It suggests tree planting, deep ploughing and the production of salt-tolerant crops. It also proposes digging drains or ditches around the affected land.

These methods would be expensive but the authors say the cost of inaction would be worse. They estimate the global cost to be $27.3bn (£16.9bn).

“To feed the world’s anticipated nine billion people by 2050, and with little new productive land available, it’s a case of all lands needed on deck,” said lead author Manzoor Qadir from the UN University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH).

“We can’t afford not to restore the productivity of salt-affected lands,” he added.

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