The role of Agriculture in Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable Development Goals are necessary to ensure that the basic needs of humankind are met. Today we are focusing on the SDGs and how agriculture contributes to them.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was established and adopted by all the Member States of the United Nations in 2015.
This program includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), based on the Millennium Development Goals and including new ones such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, among other priorities.
As it appears in the agenda, all the members from 193 countries have to provide resources to developing rural areas and sustainable agriculture.
The plan looks ambitious, but how does it help agriculture?
Why does Agriculture need SDGs?
It’s hard to say that our current food production systems are sustainable without a significant change in the methods of production. It confirms The Living Planet Report 2020, published by WWF. The report has revealed a global flora and fauna loss of 68 percent in less than 50 years.
The map below shows the remaining populations of inherent species of plants and animals as a percentage of their original populations.
Namely, the ways that we produce food cause significant resource depletion. Over the last decade, we have a big problem with fertilizer consumption in some parts of the world. For instance, due to the fast-growing population, growers in China use two or even three times more fertilizers that are recommended to feed the country. Sure, current chemical overuse in China is definitely unsustainable.
However, it’s not a unique problem in one country — this is a disaster for the whole world (look at image 2 to observe the increase in chemical usage).
Almost half of Sustainable Development Goals are related to the Agricultural sector, and this is a great opportunity that has to motivate the governments and producers.
Agriculture as a key to achieving sustainable goals
Access to quality and nutritious foods is primary for human living and directly affects economic growth. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as the custodian of 21 of 230 of the SDGs indicators, is responsible for the following goals:
SG №2 Zero Hunger
Almost 9% of the world’s population faces hunger daily, so 1 in 9 people goes hungry every day. The farmers and growers faced a challenge to meet the demand of the growing population. FAO monitors food security, the productivity of small growers, resource conservation, etc.
SG №5 Gender equality
FAO supports women in agriculture by monitoring women’s land ownership and women’s equal rights to land ownership.
SG №6 Clean Water and Sanitation
Since water is an essential component for healthy and nutritious food, FAO is regulating water use and water stress to maintain the agricultural development process.
SG №12 Responsible production and consumption
Around 14 percent of food losses yearly affect both growers and consumers by raising the prices and reducing foods. FAO is monitoring global food losses and waste and implementing activities for responsible food production.
SG №14 Life Below Water
Fish stocks are threatened by climate changes, illegal fishing, excessive consumption, so FAO is regulating these issues to conserve the biodiversity and sustainable use of marine and ocean resources.
SG №15 Life on Land
Since the world is experiencing massive forest damage and a lot of species losing their houses, FAO encourages sustainable practices of resource management and monitoring the global forest area and percentage of mountain areas with the green cover.
Modern technologies based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are an essential part of the technological revolution in agriculture. The data collected from the satellite images can be used to identify nutrient losses, diseases, soil moisture levels, erosion damage, chemical overuse, etc.
SoilMate is one step forward to dealing with environmental, economic, and social threats. The functionality of the product allows us to contribute to sustainable development.
Our AI-powered platform delivering an accurate crop map that includes the NDVI index that identifies areas of low, medium, and high vegetation rates that are useful in crop monitoring. Also, we would add plant stress and disease detection soon, so farmers will be able to conserve and increase harvests.
Contribution to achieving SDGs by Agricultural sector
The primary purpose of establishing Sustainable Development goals is “to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. Therefore, all the efforts towards conserving and enhancing sustainability are the investment in the future.
Let us provide a few case studies of the implementation of sustainable development programs in developing countries.
Integrating rural population into global markets for agricultural goods in Ethiopia
The Ethiopian government has developed a network of regional integrated agro-industrial parks (IAIPs). The project contributes to the structural transformation of the economy. It aims to provide the infrastructure needed for agro-industrial activities and to develop the necessary skills and agricultural value chain capacity to ensure competitiveness and productivity in their activities. As the reports show, Ethiopia has already made significant progress in poverty reduction, food security, and job creation.
Wastewater treatment and reuse in Botswana
Botswana faces water poverty due to limited water resources. The situation is getting worse by low precipitation, high evaporation rates, poor water quality, and unsustainable water use. As a country with an economy in transition, Botswana needs water for economic growth in the domestic, energy, agricultural, and manufacturing sectors, so the alternative is reuse of wastewater.
The constructed system as a part of a sustainable development program has been effective in treating wastewater for non-productive uses such as irrigation, construction, and dust extraction. It was not sufficient for pathogen removal, but the system can purify wastewater to acceptable water quality standards.
The challenges inherent in the Global SDG framework are familiar not only for Africa. Since the 2030 Agenda was established in 193 countries, South America, Asia, and European countries also have the opportunity to solve their problems with water management, gender equality, and resource consumption. As we know, a lot of issues largely depend on human activities rather than environmental conditions.
We hope that in the following nine years, our global society will pave that path to prosperity and meet the targets of the 2030 Agenda.