The Recarbonization of Global Soils (RECSOIL) programme is taking a big step towards implementation in Africa, starting in Togo. By bringing together government, soil institutions, academia, farmers, producer organizations and other local stakeholders, RECSOIL seeks to improve soil health and soil carbon sequestration using sustainable soil management (SSM).
Building local capacity
The RECSOIL initiative is implemented using a country-driven process. Engaging local stakeholders from the start facilitates capacity building and enables the long-term adoption and sustainability of the project. To start the capacity-building process on soil carbon measurement and SSM, the GSP recently organized a four-day workshop introducing the RECSOIL project to technicians, farmers, and researchers in charge of the on-ground implementation. In Togo, the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) is implementing RECSOIL in collaboration with the FAO Country Office, the Institut Togolais de Recherche Agronomique (ITRA) and the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF).
The FFF is a partnership between FAO, International Institute for Environment and Development, International Union for Conservation of Nature and AgriCord, which work to empower Forest and Farm Producer Organizations (FFPOs), including women, youth, and indigenous peoples, to become key drivers for climate-resilient landscapes. To facilitate this, the FFF provides a range of services to the FFPOs, including support with advocacy, information sharing, market analyses, business development, as well as access to financial and social programmes. The implementation of RECSOIL responds to the FFF target of enhanced landscape-scale mitigation, adaptation and resilience through improved environmental technical knowledge and direct engagement of FFPOs (Sustainable Development Goals 2, 13, 15).
In Togo, RECSOIL is implemented in cooperation with the FFPO Coordination Togolaise des Organisations Paysannes et de Producteurs Agricoles (CTOP). CTOP is an Apex FFPO, linking more than 550 000 smallholder farmers across the country. Using SSM practices, the RECSOIL collaboration aims to improve production systems and increase resilience to climate change. The pilot sites include cleared savannahs, reforestation with cashew nuts and cropping land.
During the first half of the workshop, seven participants from ITRA and the CTOP were trained on baseline assessments for the main soil indicators including soil organic carbon (SOC), spatial analysis of available information and visual soil assessment. The project will evaluate the impact of SSM on soil characteristics and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions after four years, which requires a detailed baseline assessment. The baseline assessment is essential for estimating carbon sequestered in soils following the adoption of SSM practices, changes in GHG emissions and other ecosystem services resulting from more sustainable agriculture.
Following the technical workshop was a two-day session on the Global Soil Doctors Programme (GSDP) with ten trainers and 16 farmers representing collaborating institutions, farmer organizations, and the farming community. The GSDP is a farmer-to-farmer training initiative on SSM, which plays an important role in capacity building. A specialized module on soil recarbonization was developed to empower farmers with knowledge of SOC preservation and sequestration. The training equipped participants with knowledge on SSM and how to use the GSDP educational material when working with farmers in the field.
Utilizing the win-win of soil carbon sequestration
Central to the RECSOIL project is adopting SSM to increase SOC stock and improve soil health. Soil organic carbon plays a crucial role in ecosystem functioning and the soil's ability to sustain plant growth. Despite constituting only a small percentage of the soil matrix, SOC massively impacts biodiversity, water and nutrient availability, erosion, and nutrient and contaminant leaching.
Utilizing the full range of the GSP toolkit, RECSOIL seeks to enhance the livelihoods of smallholder farmers while contributing to long-term food security and climate change mitigation. Healthy soils are the foundation of healthy food and resilient agri-food systems. Implementing soil management practices to increase soil carbon is a win-win, harnessing the power of photosynthesis to bring carbon into the ground while growing healthy soils and creating a more robust food system.
Source: EMM/Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations