Let’s Talk: Nature
Saving Our Soil for a Healthier World

Soil is the largest living system on our planet – it is necessary for everything we eat. Yet, our agricultural soils are being degraded at a rapid rate and depleting our natural resources and ability to produce food. Already, half of the world’s soils have reached a level close to desertification. All this came as a shocking reality to Vishal Bambha, an NTT employee, who decided to take action and do something to address the problem that no-one, in his urban setting and close quarters, was talking about.

Fast facts:

  • If soil degradation is not prevented, by 2045 food production will fall by 40%
  • 95% of the food that we eat, comes directly or indirectly from the soil
  • 52% of the soils around the world have degraded to levels heading towards desertification
  • Every second, 1 acre of soil becomes desert

Can you tell us more and what ignited your passion for saving soil?

It all began with a Netflix documentary – A Life on Our Planet – filmed by the world-renowned, Sir David Attenborough. In the film he spoke about his years of environmental research. The program showed the deterioration in the planet and ended with a focus on our ability to bring about change for the better. I was watching this in my daughter’s room and it got me thinking, “What are we doing?!” My daughter walked in and suddenly my eyes started to well up as I got to thinking about what we have done as a generation and what are we leaving behind for them? It really hit me as a moment in time when I thought this is something I have to do.

What is the Save Soil movement?

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is to think that soil and dirt are the same thing – they’re not. Dirt is soil devoid of organic content. Soil is made up of 3-6% organic content. The more organic matter there is, the greater the soil quality. The problem we face is over-farming has stripped the soil of its nutrients. Current commercial agricultural soils only typically have 0.5-1.5% organic matter so they are already degrading. As a result, today you would need to eat eight oranges to get the same nutritional as one orange a few years ago.

In January 2022 I was made aware of the Save Soil movement which is a global organization with 3.9 billion members. It began by working with countries to adopt policies to increase awareness and grew to help bring about government policies aimed at improving the reduce / reuse / recycle of materials. The movement is really driven by the power of the people creating it.

Why is soil so important?

Our soils also present a solution to the problem of carbon change through carbon sink. The process of photosynthesis and hydrocarbons is what makes a plant grow and gets fed into plants where micro-organisms perform a transfer creating an ecosystem for healthy soil. There are 8 billion living organisms in one handful of healthy soil. Soil is also the largest water reservoir and the largest living system on our planet and water will become a scarce resource as the world gets hotter.

What are the solutions?

The farmers need to be able to return to regenerative farming. Methods that include; regular crop rotation, cover crops, no till farming, zero chemical usage on the lands and positive mixing of livestock with arable land use. The current one-stock method of farming is creating the highest methane levels. For instance, in the U.S. the farming of corn and soya has rapidly increased simply to feed the animals we eat. One kilo calorie (kcal) of red meat requires 7-8 kcals of livestock feeds plus lots of water and designated land masses.

What are you doing to raise awareness?

There are lots of little initiatives that add up to something much bigger. On weekends, I walk around wearing a “SAVESOIL” branded t-shirt to raise awareness; the kids in my condominium know me as ‘Save Soil Uncle’. I also participate by carrying out awareness campaigns, such as with cycling events, which attract up to 300 people. We cycle around with the t-shirts and people will stop us to ask about the cause. We can share with them the QR codes where they can learn more and sign up to become an Earth buddy. I have run a webinar for my colleagues to help with the education and I have some plants in my office. When I give recognition gifts to the team I choose to give plants with a ‘Save Soil’ logo. I am also a member of the Standford alumni within the LEAD program. In fact I presented “Save our Soil” to several hundred members. The event lasted five days so I took the same t-shirt in five different colours and wore a different one each day. On the last day people weren’t saying ‘goodbye’ but rather ‘Save Soil’ to me. In my mind, I had achieved my goal.

Why do you do it – what is your motivation to keep going?

Doing these activities every weekend recharges me so that I am ready for work every Monday. It inspires me. If you have the time to breathe you have time to save soil.it is as important as that! Our generation must take responsibility for doing something since we’re borrowing the planet of our future generations and have a responsibility to leave it in a better shape than we found it. We can all make simple changes by just buying and cooking the food we need and not want. As we reduce food waste by composting we can help to regenerate our soils sustainably.
I have committed myself physically, mentally and in spirit to the cause so I encourage you to lean in and join the movement. The solution, my friends, is right under our feet …. AND in our hands ….

Vishal Dass Bambha

Vishal is the VP of Services for A-CDC in Asia Pacific and CEO of NTT Digital Business Solutions (legacy Emerio, one of NTT’s acquisitions). He started his journey in the NTT family 23 years ago as a software developer in Emerio and progressed to become the CEO of Emerio in 2019 where he lead the charter to successfully integrate the organization into NTT Ltd. (APAC).

Vishal is based in Singapore and leads the Business Unit (ACDC) delivering Infra and Apps services to clients in Asia Pacific and Japan. A Computer Engineer by training, Vishal completed a Transformational Leadership development program with the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University as a 50th birthday gift to himself. He lives with his wife, two children, three adopted cats and a dog. He loves to play cricket and is gifted with Reiki healing. Vishal spends his spare time volunteering with SaveSoil, Conscious Planet and WEAVING HAPPINESS as his weekend hobbies.

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