UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) — An official of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Wednesday called for innovative ways to produce fertilizers that do not contaminate soil with toxins or heavy metals.

Healthy soils are critical to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the goals of ending poverty, zero hunger, ensuring clean water, preserving biodiversity, said Carla Mucavi, director of FAO Liaison Office in New York, at a forum on World Soil Day 2018.

She said that as of 2015, 33 percent of land was moderately to highly degraded due to erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification and chemical pollution.

Soil pollution has high economic costs due to the reduction of crop yields, and soil contaminants also remain in the soil for centuries, and their removal is extremely costly, said Mucavi, adding that it is urgent to reverse this trend, and prevention of soil pollution should be a top priority worldwide.

Mucavi highly appreciated the efforts of the Kingenta Group, a Chinese-listed company of ecological engineering, which produces fertilizers that enhance productivity while protecting soils. She said that production of this type of fertilizers should be scaled up.

Dec. 5 marks World Soil Day, a day designated by the UN to highlight the importance of healthy soils and to advocate sustainable management of soil resources.