Farming First #IYS2015 Twitter Chat “Healthy Soils for a Healthy Life”

Friday 5th December 2014

10am EST / 3pm GMT

We will soon be entering International Year of Soils, and the soil we use to grow our crops will move to centre stage in the food security debate.

Land degradation currently affects nearly one-third of the earth’s land area. The impacts this has range from reduced soil fertility and lower crop yields to reduced soil carbon sequestration that would mitigate climate change, as well desertification and rural migration. Smallholder farmers in the developing world are impacted most heavily; in sub-Saharan Africa it is estimated that 65 per cent of land is degraded, which is a major barrier to food production. Worldwide, the economic loss associated with land degradation is estimated to cost us USD 40 billion per year.

Healthy soils are the foundation of a productive food system, improved rural livelihoods and a healthy environment. When so many still go hungry – we must focus on protecting and restoring our soils.

How can we seize the opportunity this global event presents to sustain our soils?

Join our panel of experts for the Twitter Chat “Healthy Soils for a Healthy Life” on Friday 5th December at 10am EST / 3pm GMT and tweet @farmingfirst with your questions, using the hashtag #AskFF

Expert Panel


Amit Roy, President, International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) – @AmitRoyIFDC / @IFDCNews

Amit Roy has been the president and CEO of IFDC since 1992. Under his leadership, IFDC’s programs have broadened to help create sustainable agricultural productivity around the world, alleviating hunger and poverty and ensuring global food security, environmental protection and economic growth.  He was instrumental in organizing the Africa Fertilizer Summit in Nigeria; founded Virtual Fertilizer Research Center in Nigeria and co-leads the Global TraPs project.  


RICHARD MKANDAWIRERichard Mkandawire, Vice President, African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) – @R_Mkandawire / @AFAPPartnership

For eight years, Richard Mkandawire was part of the leadership that drove the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). CAADP began as part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty by growing agriculture. He is now the Vice President of AFAP, bringing decades of experience as a socio-economist and rural development expert to the organisation. 


MachteldMachteld Schoolenberg, YPARD Representative, Netherlands – @MachteldAnna / @YPARD

Machteld is a policy researcher with a Masters in International Land and Water Management and specialized in land degradation, rural development and sustainable land management practices. Machteld currently works as a policy researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). She mainly works in research projects on land degradation and restoration. But also contributes on projects about natural capital, land use innovations in the EU and social media strategies. 


Juliet Bjuliet_braslow1raslow, Soil Research Area Coordinator, Centro International de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) – @JulietBraslow / @CIAT_

Juliet holds a Masters in Horticulture & Agronomy and another in International Agricultural Development. Based in Nairobi, Kenya she has a diverse background of skills ranging from soil management and agricultural extension to international development. She is interested in interdisciplinary and participatory research in natural resource management and effective science communication, especially when it comes to communicating the importance of soil.  



Ronald Vargas, Soils Officer, Global Soil Partnership – @FAOKnowledge

Ronald is Soils Officer and Secretary of the Global Soil Partnership Secretariat at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations with strong focus on the survey, assessment and management of soil resources globally.