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All our food – except sea life – relies on the soil in one way or another. So for everyone’s sake the problem of poisoned and degraded soils must be dealt with as soon as possible.

Once upon a time there was a cattle boy called Tom. The grazing was very poor in that area with dry shrubs and bushes. One summer, Tom and his friends set out to look for water and pasture for the cattle. They walked for six kilometres without finding any. Overgrazing had long since destroyed the grass and strong winds had blown away the fertile topsoil. Tom mused about the past. He wished he had been a chief during those days, able to make sure that the land was properly looked after and that trees were planted. Turning, he saw two cows stumble and fall down dead. The boys cried to their gods for an answer but all in vain. Finally they turned back home through the scorching sunshine to deliver the sad news. Soon, famine broke in the area and many people died. Tom realised he would have to leave his home and go far away to find pasture for his cattle if he was to survive the famine. So he turned sadly and left.
Mutyaba Andrew Kahua,Uganda

click picture to enlarge

Steven Appollo Kalule, Uganda

POPs stands for Persistent Organic Pollutants – that is, poisonous substances that persist – or hang about – in the environment. They come mostly from fertilisers, pesticides and industrial waste. Problems arise because they are taken in by plants and animals which we, or other animals, eat.

In Australia, approximately 30% of our fertile land has been lost in 20 years. This disaster has been caused by two main factors. First, Australian soils cannot tolerate intensive modern farming methods. The soils become dustlike and are often blown away. The second main factor is salinity (saltiness) of the soil. As land is cleared, there are no trees to keep the ever-rising water table at bay. When the water table rises, it carries with it the salt that occurs naturally in the soil. When the water reaches the surface, it evaporates, leaving a salty residue. This makes the land rock hard and useless. Thankfully, the Australian government is backing many landcare projects and farmers have been using satellite technology in order to plan their land reclamation programmes better. They are planting trees, draining the rising water table, building fences to keep animals enclosed and protecting existing patches of bush.
Andrew Hobbs, Australia

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