From the Desk of Rattan Lal: Sparing Land for Nature

Vegetables from a home garden

The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the global food insecurity and increased the prevalence of undernutrition from 691 million (M) in 2019 to 811 M by Dacewa 2020. As many as 3 billion (B) people cannot afford a healthy diet and more than 2B people are prone to malnourishment. The need to improve access to healthy, nutritious, and safe food will increase with increase in global population of growing affluence and changing values or lifestyle. Thus, there is an urgency to strengthen and expand local sources of food production to supplement global food stocks, buffer price volatilities, and increase access to safe, nutritious food. In this context, the role of home gardens to enhance household and community food and nutritional security cannot be over emphasized. In addition to food supply, home gardens are also critical to provisioning of other benefits, such as social, economic, cultural, aesthetic, health, and environmental factors. Home gardens can also create another income stream and livelihood for poor households. Such benefits and ecosystem services are important not only in developing countries, but also in emerging economies and developed countries. For example, the number of people challenged by food insecurity in the U.S. increased from 35M in 2019 to 45 M in 2020, partly due to disruption in the food supply chain and access by the pandemic. Food deserts have been increased by the pandemics, globally. In this context, home gardening is a pertinent strategy to address this global issue. Community gardens are another viable option for urban dwellers.

Sincerely,

Dr. Rattan Lal

Rattan Lal
Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science
Director, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center
IICA Chair in Soil Science & Goodwill Ambassador for Sustainable Development Issues
Adjunct Professor at the University of Iceland and the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)
International Decade of Soils 2015-2024