FAO launches training courses to help farmers stop land degradation in Ukraine

Posted on: 19 February 2019

The problem of land degradation is crucial for Ukraine, as it affects 20 percent of the country’s arable land, or 6.5 million ha in total. Between 300 and 600 million tons of soil are lost to erosion every year, and crop yields can be reduced by 50 percent, depending on the level of degradation.

The most dangerous form of land degradation in Ukraine is soil erosion by wind and water.

To help combat this, farmers and agronomists from all over Ukraine will be taking a series of training courses on conservation agriculture practices, launched today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) during the conference on Sustainable Agriculture Under Climate Change in Kyiv.

At the conference, national and international experts and farmers are discussing the efficiency of integrated management of natural resources in the forest-steppe and steppe zones, the challenges caused by land degradation in Ukraine, the importance of biodiversity, and the technologies of soil cultivation and its effectiveness in combating land degradation.

The training courses are being held under the framework of the FAO project Integrated Natural Resources Management in Degraded Landscapes in the Forest-Steppe and Steppe Zones of Ukraine, funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). The project’s main objectives are to assist leading state authorities in developing environmental monitoring and achieving neutral soil degradation in the forest-steppe and steppe zones. Following up on the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Ukraine has committed to achieving neutral soil degradation by 2030. The training courses will be held over the next 10 months and will promote many sustainable agriculture practices, including: minimum tillage and soil disturbance, permanent soil cover with crop residues and live mulches, crop rotation and biodiversity, and the rehabilitation of shelterbelts. Approximately 200 trainees will graduate from the practical training courses, the first of which will be held in March.

“It is important that the training is conducted in the field,” said Oksana Ryabchenko, FAO national project coordinator. “Agronomists will be able to see in practice what degraded land looks like and what is achievable if natural resource management practices are improved.”

One part of the project focuses on restoring the productivity and resilience of production landscapes, using a demonstration area of 7 500 ha. The demonstration activities will be conducted in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson and Mykolaiv oblasts – territories representing different natural and climatic zones.

“Preservation and protection of arable land against land degradation and desertification is a national priority in Ukraine and is essential for ensuring the sustainable development of agricultural landscapes and the reduction of rural poverty,” said Mikhail Malkov, FAO development programme coordinator in Ukraine.

Activities under this four-year FAO project relate to broader global efforts as they contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 15 for “life on land.”