The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals were formulated to produce a set of universal goals that meets the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world. The SDGs were embedded as 17 themes to serve as a call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all individuals globally enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. One of such Global Goals enacted by the United Nations General Assembly was SDG 2 Ensuring Zero Hunger.
Statistics estimated that over 819 million people in the world are suffering from malnutrition and hunger and some other 11 million individuals in the world are suffering from acute food insecurity (FAO Statistics, 2019) and thus, the need for concerted efforts to combat the issue of food insecurity as a global challenge; ditto, creating the SDG 2- Zero Hunger. The SDG 2 was formulated to ensure food security and build resilience in rural areas; reduce the rate of hunger, malnutrition ravaging various individuals and communities across the globe most especially Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia were incidents of food insecurity were at its peak (Global Food Security Index, 2019).
Like a thief at night, the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged economies, disrupted agricultural production and food supply chain, limited access to food markets, caused a hike in food prices, resulted in loss of income and sources of livelihood and it is further contributing to hunger and malnutrition; causing a growing concern for various stakeholders and the global community. The global community is at the verge of suffering from a crisis within a crisis and if solutions to mitigate the impeding effects of this pandemic is not found, this pandemic could lead to 'famines of biblical proportions' as projected by David Beasley, United Nations World Food Programme Executive Director.
Now is the time to concert our efforts towards salvaging our food and agricultural systems from further shocks and contingencies by changing the narrative of agriculture. A new narrative of agriculture practice spurred by 7 Is - Investments, Incentives, Inclusion, Indigenous Knowledge, Institutions, Innovation and Information will ensure a transition to a Sustainable Agricultural Production so as to achieve the Zero Hunger Goal of the United Nations.
The need for investments in the agricultural sector cannot be overemphasized, when I mean investments, I do not mean the meagre and paltry budgetary allocation for agriculture proposed by the Government. Rather, investments in agriculture through Public-Private Partnership towards concerting efforts and pooling resources towards productivity in the agricultural sector and also, investing in the lives of our rural people. Statistics shows that 70% of our agricultural production are facilitated by the rural people, implying that a substantial amount of our agricultural production is hinged on the productivity of the rural people. Massive investments in the rural people will result in substantial return in the agricultural productivity of the rural people.
More so, there should be collaboration between institutions of learning, research institutes and the agricultural community and practitioners. Such collaboration will help to improve the purview of agricultural Research and Development and set up framework to implement such research work. Also, research results and policy recommendations of researches should not end up in bookshelves without implementation of the research output. Formulation of research outputs and policy recommendations without implementation to improve the efforts of rural farmers and other agricultural practitioners is more like efforts in futility.
Furthermore, innovation in agriculture is the bedrock for attaining Sustainable Agriculture Production. Gone are the days were the practice of agriculture is hinged on cutlasses and hoe; with the advent of technology, various innovative approaches can be employed to boost agriculture production. Innovative approaches such as Drone Marketing System, Artificial Intelligence, Digitization of Value Chain, Precision Agriculture practice, Variable Rate Technology, Data-driven insights for agriculture price projections among others. Concerns may be raised about our rural farmers and the use of these technologies and innovation. However, information about this technology and innovative approaches and trainings on the use and application of these technologies can be encouraged.
Changing the narrative of agriculture is not magical neither is it a days job, it takes concerted efforts to achieve the Sustainable Agriculture practice which we all desire. Little efforts by all could translate to coordinated actions to achieve Food Security and Zero Hunger.
We all can contribute our efforts in achieving food security, the backyard laying fallow in your compound can be used to produce food for your family consumption. Maybe you do not have large expanse of land for agriculture, hydroponics technology (soilless farming) can be employed to produce varieties of agricultural products. We all have a role to play in turning the COVID-19 pandemic challenge to myriads of opportunities for our agriculture and food system.