World Soil Day 2023:
Soil and water, a source of life

Soil and water
  • Interdependencies between soil and water
  • Improving soil health in our lavender supply chain in France
  • Improved rice farming techniques to cut water use and improve soil fertility in Madagascar
  • Tackling soil erosion in the vetiver supply chain in Haiti
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The UN’s World Soil Day, celebrated annually on 5 December, is designed to empower and engage people around the world to improve soil health and tackle the challenges associated with it. This year the day focuses on the link between soil and water.

World Soil Day 2023 logo

What are the interdependencies between soil and water?

Soil is the medium in which plants grow and provide the structural stability for water and nutrients to be made available to the plants. Soil and water provide the foundation for food production, and human-wellbeing.

The health of the soil and the quality and availability of water are interconnected; healthy soil is a soil which has the capacity to function as a living system.  Has the structural, chemical and biological properties necessary to absorb, retain and deliver water and carry nutrients to the living things.

Healthy soils provide other ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, limit the impact of extreme weather events such as droughts and floods. This is particularly important when you consider that rain-fed agriculture systems account for 80% of croplands, contributing to 60% of the global food production. These systems rely heavily on effective soil moisture management practices.

Recognising the invaluable roles of soil and water, we can take proactive measures to safeguard these resources for future generations.

Improving soil health in our lavender supply chain in France
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Improving soil health in our lavender supply chain
World Soil Day 2023

Lavender, an iconic ingredient used in both fine and consumer fragrances, faces critical challenges.

The increasing variability of weather patterns, characterised by longer droughts and more intense precipitation events, is testing the resilience of lavender plants.

This stress not only weakens the plants but also makes them more susceptible to pests and diseases.

The key to their survival and thriving lies in the soil – its fertility and capacity to deliver vital services to the plants.

Lavender field Measuring distance

The way soil is treated can significantly impact its ability to retain water and provide it to crops, thereby reducing water stress risks.

Practices such as soil disturbance, compaction, and exposure to sun and rain, along with the use of agro-inputs, can drastically alter soil structure, reducing its moisture absorption and retention capabilities.

In partnership with regenerative agriculture technical experts, we have carried out comprehensive soil audits for both lavandin and fine lavender in key producing areas.

This baseline assessment, including soil profiles, visual evaluations of soil structure, and soil analysis, will help accurately characterise the soil, its structure, its physico-chemical characteristics, and its water holding and releasing capacity.

Based on this baseline assessment, adapted cultivation practices will be defined to address the challenges faced by the producers locally.

The next phase of the project involves testing and monitoring these adapted cultivation methods.

The focus will be on their impact in various key areas, including soil health, water management, biodiversity, and the economic model of lavender cultivation.

By shifting practices, like adopting cover crops, farmers can expect improved water infiltration and retention in the soil.

Such improvements significantly reduce water stress for lavender plants, ensuring their health and productivity in the face of changing climate conditions.

The project not only aims to preserve this precious natural resource, but also to set a precedent for sustainable agricultural practices in other crops facing similar challenges.

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Improved rice farming techniques to cut water use and improve soil fertility in Madagascar
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Improved rice farming techniques to cut water use and improve soil fertility

World Soil Day 2023

In Madagascar’s vanilla villages producers depend on their own rice fields for family nutrition.

As a result of population growth in the Sava region, a rising number of forest areas around the villages are being cleared for subsistence and cash-crop production and families without access to additional land find themselves at risk of facing a situation of food insecurity.

The Givaudan Foundation has been supporting 32 villages of vanilla producers since 2014 with projects benefiting up to 25,000 villagers.

Working in rice field Working in rice field

One of these projects has involved intensifying rice production in a sustainable way as a key component to tackle this issue.

To help vanilla farmers in adjusting their production techniques, training and coaching have been developed and delivered whereby farmers learn to apply a combination of measures following the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) – using selected seeds, improving water and fertilisation management and good agricultural practices in general – and the benefits of such a method are explained to them.

To date, more than 2,000 farmers have been trained in SRI and income-generating activities.

In addition, the promotion of SRI methods has reduced farmers’ use of slash-and-burn cultivation techniques helping to conserve forest resources.

The SRI practices also have a positive impact on soil fertility and lead to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Rice field
Tackling soil erosion in the vetiver supply chain in Haiti
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Tackling soil erosion in the vetiver supply chain

World Soil Day 2023

In Haiti, the Givaudan Foundation has been supporting a cooperative of vetiver growers and their families as part of a long-term project.

The project aims to support communities to preserve and restore natural resources.

This includes the implementation of a programme for farmers to reduce soil erosion through efficient practices and economically profitable.

Harvesting vetiver Vetiver

The overall objectives of this project is focused on:

  • further supporting the development of environmentally-friendly vetiver production models to reduce erosion, and
  • further reducing families’ dependence on vetiver production by diversifying their farming activities.

The specific objectives of the programme include:


  • consolidating the progress made by the farms in the pilot phase,
  • expanding environmentally-friendly vetiver production by 20 hectares,
  • diversifying farming activities to increase the income of over 100 families by 15%, and
  • empowering local teams by strengthening the Cooperative’s capacity for sustainable growth and achievement extension.

To date, key achievements have included:

  • more than 80 farmers improving their practices through training sessions and vetiver plots adaptation,
  • the set-up of four demonstration plots, and
  • 73 families benefiting from diversification of income through activities ranging from market gardening to raising laying hens.


For further information on World Soil Day 2023, visit: