Zero hunger started its journey in 2012, by the then Secretary General of UN Ban-ki-Moon giving emphasis on sustainable production and consumption, double the growth of small-scale farmers, eliminate loss and waste and malnutrition. This zero-hunger scheme ultimately merged with SDG in 5 goals. Hunger has three inter-related component: ending hunger, food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture and 21 targets in all SDG targets have direct impact on agriculture related activities.
From 2016 hunger is increasing globally slowly and Covid in 2020 accelerated growth of it. In 2018 one in each nine about 11% of the global population were go to bed with hunger. Among them a large majority 513.9 million are housed in Asia and 381 million in South Asia alone. But African undernourishment growing faster than anywhere on the globe, and there number is 256.1 million. About 2 billion (26.4%) are moderately or severely suffering from food insecurity. In last 5 year before advent of Covid-19, 60 million additional people are in hunger. With present Covid situation, now one in ten people in the world are exposed to severe food insecurity. In 2018, about 2 billion people in the globe did not have sufficient, safe and nutritious food. Current trends suggest that by 2030, number of hungry people will be about 840 million. According to World Food Program, 135 million people are in acute hunger and this number is doubled by the covid pandemic and about quarter of a billion people are at the brink of starvation. In 2019, number of under-5 stunting children stood at 144 million i.e. 21.1% and three fourth of them living in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and 6.9% wasting and acute undernutrition under-five children hampers global health severely. The prime cause of not decreasing hunger globally are climate, conflict and economic slowdown. If Paris declaration during CoP21 is implemented, even then the world will face GDP decline by 0.65% by 2050 facing yearly $479b and total $10tn loss.
SDG 2 Zero hunger having 8 targets and among these, 3 are means of implementation and 13 indicators identified Poverty as the main cause of hunger. And hunger is closely related with undernourishment, micro nutrient deficiency and obesity. Famines, climate change, food per person and diet composition determines the nature of hunger. ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’ in its report in June 2019, identified that Africa and Asia are home to three forth of all stunted, wasted and malnutrition children..
SDG 2 is targeted to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition also promote sustainable agriculture by 2030.Target 2.1 includes end hunger, ensure access to food for all people, nutritious and sufficient food all year round. Target 2.2 addresses end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under-5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons. Double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment are addressed in target 2.3.Target 2.4 deals with sustainable food production, implement resilient agricultural practices, productivity and production, ecosystems, adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, improvement of land and soil quality. Genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species are dealt in target 2.5.
Investment, international cooperation, rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development and plant and livestock gene banks, prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets, including through the parallel elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies, proper functioning of food commodity markets, access to market information, food reserves will work as means of implementation under 2a,2b and 2c.
Bangladesh achieved landmark success in agriculture, fishery and livestock in the last decade. In last 50 years, rice production of Bangladesh increased by 3.43 times from 10.87 million matric tones in 1971 to 37.36 million metric ton in 2019 and became 4th global rice producer. Bangladesh attained 3rd position in both inland fishery and vegetable production. It is 5th in aqua culture production and 7th in mango production. A small country and in terms of area, 94th country of the world occupies such remarkable position without much modern technology was only possible by policy guidance with strong political will, innovation, home grown technology and hard work.
Continuous efforts of Bangladesh enabled it to achieve MDG goal on hunger at 32.6% of its population halving from 2000 at least one year ahead of the schedule 2015. While working for SDG, according to Global Hunger Index, in 2020, position of Bangladesh is 75th better than Pakistan (88th), India (94th) and Afghanistan (99th) among 107 countries with a score of 20.4 having decreasing tendency, in 2012 it was 27.4 and advanced 13 notches in a year from 88th position. In Agriculture sector Bangladesh developed different crop verity including 35 new rice verity, 9 jute, 8 sugarcane, so many vegetable and other crops. Zinc fortified rice, Integrated Paste Management (IPM), Integrated Farm Management, Jute disease management, Organic Management are some of the remarkable steps in our country.
Bangladesh has crop intensity of 190 having 59.8% agricultural land decreasing 0.73% yearly. For doubling agriculture production and supporting the small farm holders for equal access to agriculture inputs innovative steps for opening Bank account with only taka ten, arranging access to Mobile Financial Service, Field training on new technology for the farmers at their out yard, establishing market for the farmers, rice procurement by the government from their home, supporting the farmers with necessary agriculture inputs like high yielding variety of seed, fertilizer, insecticide and modern equipment are being done. Solar irrigation, using surface water from pond, canals, rivers and harvesting rain water, using buried pipe and Alternate Wet and Dry (AWD) Method to reduce water for cultivation along with other nature-based solution may give us sustainable agriculture.
Increased crop intensity sometimes brings less fertility. On the other hand, organic content in our soil is alarmingly low which is below 1%; ideally it should be 2-10%. For long time we were advocating and utilizing inorganic chemical fertilizer for enhanced production. Time has come to take robust program on organic fertilizer and it is very much encouraging that our government initiative on organic Verme compost, extensive soil testing, crop diversification and change of crop pattern to develop the scenario soon in a positive direction. (to be continued)
SDG Part 8: Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Former Principal Secretary and SDG Coordinator