development food

Restoring soil in Bangladesh

Soil loss is the environmental crisis that gets the least attention from the media or from environmental campaigns. That’s why I did a whole week on it last year, and wrote up a report as an introduction to the topic.

Last week Practical Action released a short documentary on soil in Bangladesh. It makes a neat case study in how soil fertility is lost, and the risks that it poses to farmers. There are a number of culprits here – poor land management, generous subsidies on fertiliser that encourage overuse, and competing uses for organic matter. The solutions are holistic and creative – the country lacks a market for compost, and creating one could help solve problems with domestic waste and pollution at the same time.

I suspect you didn’t plan on spending any time today thinking about soil in Bangladesh, but this is a great example of circular economy thinking in a developing world context. It shows the role that markets can play in solving environmental problems, and how government can enable and assist rather than direct. You’ll also find appropriate technology, the case for a flexible ‘mostly organic‘ approach to agriculture, and a documentary that lets Bangladeshis tell their own story.

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