India’s Siddhesh Sakore named Land Hero by UN agency

Bonn/New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Siddhesh Sakore, a farmer and the founder of AGRO RANGERS, from Maharashtra, has been named Land Hero by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

On the occasion of World Desertification and Drought Day, the UNCCD announced the names of 10 Land Heroes in a programme in Bonn, Germany, on Sunday.

Apart from Sakore, other Land Heroes are from Brazil, Costa Rica, Germany, Mali, Moldova, Morocco, the Philippines, the US, and Zimbabwe.

Belonging to a farmer family, Sakore has a graduation degree in mechanical engineering.

“I am passionate about natural farming and have technical expertise in waste management. In Vigyan Ashram, I developed several cost-effective mechanical devices to convert organic waste into compost. I have innovated several social innovations about solving real-life problems of society by using eco-friendly and cost-effective technology,” his website at WordPress reads.

“He is passionate about solving the problems of soil degradation on agricultural land. He is committed to empowering small and marginal farmers from his community through innovative agroforestry models,” UNCCD said in its citation.

“Growing up in the farmer’s community, I witnessed the misery and poverty which seemed to be the inevitable fate of a farmer in Maharashtra,” Sakore said, adding that the combination of economic crisis and the use of toxic chemicals that lead to unsustainable farming methods, as well as the effects of climate change, form a heavy burden on farmers.

Addressing the programme, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said: “As the focus of this year’s World Day reminds us, we must be “United for Land”. Governments, businesses, academics, communities, and more must come together, and act. We know what we need to do: it’s set out clearly in the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. As we mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention, the world must dramatically pick up the pace of implementation; Build momentum towards UNCCD COP16 in Riyadh; And ensure young people are heard in the negotiations. Together, let’s sow the seeds for a thriving future — for nature and humanity.”

Land degradation affects up to 40 per cent of the world’s land and nearly half the world’s population, UNCCD said, with the highest costs borne by those who can least afford it: indigenous communities, rural households, smallholder farmers, and especially youth and women. More than a billion young people who live in developing countries depend on land and natural resources.

Engaging youth in land restoration can create the estimated 600 million jobs needed in the next 15 years, contributing to both economic growth and environmental sustainability, it added.

President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said: “There is nothing more important, more basic, than good soil, safe food, and clean water. So let’s work together! And let’s bring in young people to make sure that our decisions today ensure their good future tomorrow.”

“The future of our land is the future of our planet. By 2050, 10 billion people will depend on this vital resource. Yet we are losing the equivalent of four football fields to land degradation every second,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UNCCD.



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