Stories tagged: sustainable development goals

14 Ways Agriculture is Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals

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For the past five weeks, Farming First and its supporters have been sharing stories on how agriculture is helping us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in our #SDG2countdown campaign. We explored each target of SDG2 in detail, sharing quizzes, videos, infographics and stories of success. As well as being central to achieving hunger, these stories revealed that agriculture has a key part to play in meeting many other goals, such as gender equality, combatting climate change and water management. Read some top picks from the stories submitted below in this latest “Supporter Spotlight” blog. For more stories, search #Ag4SDGs on Twitter.

SDG2.5 – Protecting Genetic Diversity

1. HarvestPlus: It’s in the Genes

HarvestPlus has championed the development of iron-rich and other biofortified crops, which have been shown to improve nutrition and public health by reducing micronutrient deficiencies. Such deficiencies affect two billion people, causing long-term physical and cognitive impairment, and even death. This agricultural intervention will not only combat hunger, but contribute to goals on improved health and wellbeing for all. In order to breed new varieties of staple crops with nutrient-rich traits, it is necessary to protect the genes that have these traits to begin with. Read more >>

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2. CropLife International: Breeding Better Crops to Save on Carbon

Improved breeds of crops that make the most of diverse genetic traits have helped increase yields by 22 per cent in the last 20 years. This has also meant an estimated 132 million hectares of land have been saved from cultivation, thus drastically lowering agriculture’s carbon footprint, and contributing to goals on combatting climate change. Read more >>

SDG2.4 – Building Resilience

3. QuickFarm: An Information Exchange for Getting Climate-Smart

QuickFarm has developed the Agroecological Intensification Exchange, a free, online resource for farmers to access advice on sustainable farming practices. Meanwhile, it is also promoting climate-smart practices through a Farmers Field School in Nigeria. Given that farmers are at the forefront of climate issues, having yields affected by extreme weather, agriculture interventions such as farmer field schools can not only help them adapt to new weather patterns, but also ensure they lower their own carbon footprint, thus contributing to goals on combatting climate change. Read more >>

4. Chemonics: Greenhouses Offer Haitian Farmers Year-Round Bounty

Haiti has suffered several dramatic weather events in recent years, from deadly droughts to hurricanes. Climate-smart agriculture techniques are being implemented to lessen the negative impacts of climate-related shocks. The USAID-funded Haiti Chanje Lavi Plantè (CLP) program, implemented by Chemonics, strives to protect hillsides from erosion through terracing and by setting up greenhouses to allow farmers to produce crops all year round. Read more >>

Women work inside a WINNER greenhouse where they are growing lettuce and peppers.

Chemonics: A greenhouse growing lettuce and peppers.

5. DigitalGlobe: An Eye on Productivity in Mali

By using DigitalGlobe’s satellite imagery to track the health of agriculture systems in Mali, ICRISAT were able to evidence adoption of good agricultural practices. Analyzing crop health at the plot level provided an important insight as to whether or not those farmers were applying the recommended amounts of fertilizer.  With this imagery, farmers that are adopting practices such as optimal fertilizer use are now able to prove they follow best practice, thus making them more credit worthy. Read more >>

SDG2.3 – Doubling Smallholder Productivity & Incomes

6. Shaping Up Shambas Boosts Profits in Kenya

Shamba Shape Up:  Shamba Shape Up is East Africa’s favourite farming television show, watched by 5 million viewers, aiming to not only entertain, but to educate and improve the livelihoods of farmers across the region. The TV show effectively gives farmers a source of sound agricultural information. In 2014, Reading University, estimated that the total net increase in the value of milk produced in Kenya, as a direct result of Shamba Shape Up, was US$24 million.

7. Feeding the Soil to Feed Farmer Incomes

IPNI:  Indian farmers have been looking for less water-intensive crops to farms than rice, but balanced nutrient supply and improving soil health has proved to be a big challenge for those attempting to grow maize and other grains. In West Bengal, IPNI discovered that while nitrogen is the most limiting nutrient, addition of potassium, phosphorus, sulphur and zinc were found to add US$80 – $290/ha to the income of farmers growing maize. Similar responses were also recorded in the rice in these on-farm trials. By boosting productivity and incomes, goals to reduce poverty are also tackled.  Read more >>

8. Farm Africa: Bumper Harvest for New Crop of Farmers

A private-public collaboration between supermarket chain Aldi and Farm Africa has established 21 demonstration plots, where young farmers have learnt practical skills for growing mangetouts, French beans, cabbages, kale and chilli peppers. Almost 400 young farmers, from Kitale in western Kenya, are now benefiting from the fundamental agricultural skills and practices learnt including: crop rotation, irrigation, planting, harvesting and pest management. The first harvests this year have seen bumper yields, with 96,500kg of cabbages and 37,200kg of French beans grown by the first group of 118 farmers to have completed a growing cycle so far. The first vegetables to have been sold achieved impressive profit margins of 62 per cent for cabbages and 50 per cent for French beans. Read more >>

Farm Africa: Joseph with his family

Farm Africa: Joseph with his family

SDG2.2 – Ending Malnutrition

9. IFDC: Getting Nutrition “Just Right” in Ethiopia

IFDC’s Toward Sustainable Clusters in Agribusiness and Entrepreneurship (2SCALE) project partnered with Ethiopian food processing company GUTS Agro to create a marketing strategy for Super Mom, a high-protein corn-soy food product for young children and pregnant and nursing mothers. To make this product affordable for low-income consumers, 2SCALE assisted in developing the “Likie” distribution model. The Likie model (which means “just the right size” in Amharic) engages women in micro-franchisees to deliver the product door-to-door on branded tricycles and provide education on nutrition and other topics. After an investment as low as $5, these women typically net $47 within the first few months, and some have reported sales as high as $500 per month, contributing to goals on nutrition and employment.

10. Technoserve: Growing Gardens for Gender Goals

Encouraging women in Rajasthan, India, to start kitchen gardens has improved their families’ nutrition by adding fresh produce that was previously out of reach because of a lack of refrigeration. It has also help redefine women’s role in their households, thereby not only contributing to goals on nutrition, but gender equality too. Read more >>

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11.  One Acre Fund: Helping Achieve Double Win of Beating Drought and Malnutrition

One Acre Fund is working with farmers to enable them to feed their families, despite the onslaught of climate change. OAF trainings stress the importance of crop diversity and soil health. They advise farmers to rotate crops, compost, and use intercropping planting techniques that benefit soils. If farmers plant many different types of crops, they’re better protected in extreme weather if one crop fails, meaning they and their families won’t face a hunger season. Read more >>

SDG2.1 – Ending Hunger

12. Fintrac  / CropLife International: Sweet Success for Strawberry Farmers

The USAID/ACCESO project in Honduras has helped farmers learn sustainable agricultural practices, give them access to inputs, such as seeds and crop protection, and link them to secure markets. Between 2011 and 2015 more than 6,000 smallholder farmers were lifted out of poverty and the prevalence of underweight children under two-years-old decreased by 50 percent as their diet improved. Read more >>

13. Self Help Africa: Two Village Project Transforms Lives

In Zambia, SHA’s three year project based in two remote villages in the Northern Province, saw a rise in access to sufficient food – from 57% at the start of the project, to 67% currently. Furthermore, 28% of children in the area are now receiving at least the minimum food diversity in their diets, compared to 17% before. The key foundations of the project were access to saving and credit groups, access to training as well as equal support for women. Read more >>

14. CNFA: One Stop Shops for Ending Hunger

In Ethiopia, six privately-owned input supply stores created under the USAID-funded Commercial Farm Service Center Program and supported by CNFA have now served more than 24,800 farmer customers, generated $1.3 million in private sector investment, and sold more than $2.7 million worth of seeds, feed, fertilizer, farm implements, veterinary medicines, and plant protection products. These “one stop shops” are equipping farmers with all they need to boost their productivity and incomes, and thereby helping to lift communities out of poverty. Read more >>

Featured image: One Acre Fund

Three Steps for Transforming Agriculture to Feed the World

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In this guest post, Nick Austin, Agricultural Development Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, outlines a new global roadmap for transforming smallholder farming in order to feed the world. Part of Farming First’s #SDG2countdown series on SDG2.1 – ending hunger.

For smallholder farmer Rahlia Michael, life was a constant struggle. No matter how many hours she worked, she found it impossible to feed her large family from the income she made from her farm.

But this all changed when Babban Gona, the award-winning initiative to support smallholder farmers, came to her Nigerian community. For the first time, Rahlia and farmers like her now had the financial help, knowledge and training to reward their hard work.

Working with Babban Gona has provided access to low-cost, high-quality fertilizer and seeds, expert advice to make the most of them, and improved marketing to help sell what is grown. The results have helped transform Rahlia’s life. Her increased maize yields and the improved quality of her harvest means she enjoys a much better income. It is extra money not only to provide nutritious food for her family but to allow her to continue investing in her farm and meet the cost of school fees for her children.

This positive and lasting impact both on her family and the wider community underlines the crucial importance of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2. Even within the extraordinary ambition of the SDGs, the agreement to end hunger and malnutrition and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030 is one of the boldest commitments world leaders have ever made.  Achieving this goal is going to require an enormous collective effort.

After all, an estimated 795 million people – one in nine of the population – today lack the food to lead a healthy, productive life. And population growth means, without urgent action, the challenge will only get greater in sub-Saharan Africa which already has the highest percentage of hungry people in the world.

It is projected that business as usual in the SSA region will see their numbers grow by another eight million just between 2014 and 2024. Overall, it is estimated that global food production will have to increase by 70 percent by 2050 to meet the needs of what will then be nine billion people.

But while the challenges are great, so are the potential gains. As Rahlia’s story shows, if we can boost agricultural productivity, we can not only lift permanently the shadow of hunger from hundreds of millions of people but can also transform global health and prosperity.

Agriculture is the engine that continues to power African economies. It employs three-quarters of the workforce and accounts for one third of GDP. Raising agricultural output – and the output of small producers – is as much as four times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in any other sector.

It is why the central role of smallholder farmers has been recognized within SDG2 through the goal of doubling their productivity and incomes.  Ending hunger and tackling poverty can’t be achieved without helping them maximize their potential.

Reaping these rewards, however, requires coupling the vision of SDG 2 with a practical plan to deliver its ambition. Starting any journey without a clear idea of how to get to the destination always risks delays. This is why the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is collaborating with global leaders and partners to create an actionable roadmap that has the potential to transform the lives of smallholder farmers. At its heart, we believe progress is needed on three essential elements.

Developing consensus

Collectively, we have tremendous knowledge and expertise on how to support smallholder farmers. Over the last half-century, there have been many successful initiatives such as Babban Gona to improve agricultural productivity. But these have often been implemented at the community level and lessons learned have not always been widely recognized. They have too often not translated to transformative change that improves the lives of many. A thorough expert examination of the available evidence would allow us all to identify where we should concentrate our resources. A similar exercise to find the most effective ways to tackle child hunger and malnutrition is already helping focus attention and efforts on the highest impact interventions.

Securing resources

Consensus on the approaches that have the greatest impact will help us in determining the scale and type of resources countries need to boost their agricultural productivity – and how they can best be channelled to create new opportunities for smallholder farmers like Rahlia. A better understanding of the funding gap will make it easier to attract additional capital whether from governments, donors or the private sector. It will also prevent competition for new funds and help ensure that existing investments are allocated to activities with the greatest potential to transform lives of farmers.

Measuring progress

Agreement on the right interventions and financing models will enable decisions to be made on what should be measured and allow the right evaluation systems to be put in place. We remain quite a distance from what’s needed. For example, we do not yet have either global or sub-Saharan Africa figures on smallholder productivity or incomes. This knowledge is essential to transform the agricultural sector and drive inclusive economic growth.

The ambition set out in SDG 2 and the focus on smallholders has the potential to drive catalytic change and transform the world. Boosting smallholder productivity will help improve rural economies, reduce poverty and ensure access to nutritious food.

But it won’t be achieved without a clear roadmap to identify priorities, guide resources and measure progress. Our destination is simply too important to risk getting lost along the way.

Steps to Eradicate Childhood Stunting & Achieve SDG2.2

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In this guest blog post, Morgane Danielou, from the Secretariat of the Private Sector Mechanism to the UN Committee on World Food Security tells Farming First about three projects on the frontline of the battle against stunting. Part of Farming First’s #SDG2countdown on SDG2.2: ending malnutrition.

Stunting continues to be one of the most pernicious and widespread forms of malnutrition, having a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable populations compared with other types of malnourishment. According to 2016 data, 155 million children under five around the world are stunted, representing more than 20 per cent of the under-five population. The majority of stunted children are in Asia (87 million) and in Africa (59 million).

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SDG 2.2 in 2 Minutes: Kate Van Waes, ONE International

For every $1 invested in nutrition, you get $16 back. This is just one reason ONE International argues that investing in nutrition pays off. Hear more about ONE’s work to encourage African governments to invest in agriculture and nutrition.

Filmed as part of Farming First’s #SDG2countdown campaign, exploring SDG2.2 on ending malnutrition.

Music: Ben Sounds