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Agriculture at Top of Global Agenda

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At some moments in the discussion of the next set of global development goals, the conversations have seemed at risk of leaving out the most basic human needs. However, it seems clear now that agriculture and food will make the top of the list for the United Nations.

The co-chairs of the United Nations discussion of Sustainable Development Goals, have listed poverty eradication number one and sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition clustered right behind it as focus area number two. These discussions should shape global development work until 2030 as the replacement for the current Millennium Development Goals.

Of the fifteen potential goals for sustainable agriculture, food security, and nutrition discussed at the UN this month, it is clear they must be dropped to a more manageable number. When I first chaired Farming First seven years ago, we were working in a relative vacuum, with agriculture far off the worldwide agenda. Since that time it has taken price hikes and dogged work to get farming back into the focus of global leaders.

Farming First's six principles, presaged many elements of what appears to be growing consensus around likely goals, such as:

  • end hunger and achieve food security
  • eliminate malnutrition, referencing children under 5 and maternal specifically
  • increase agricultural productivity and enabling rural entrepreneurs, including women
  • increase trade on a fair basis
  • improve sustainable fisheries
  • reduce post harvest and food waste
These are the necessary measures to achieve the Zero Hunger Challenge. In particular, as a member of a farming family, I can see the need to increase the productivity of farming to ensure year-round access by all to affordable, adequate, safe and nutritious food around the world.

That will demand specific, aggressive targets and it is time for countries to focus more on these measures. In this regard, we need to shape the next fifteen years of the agenda in development by:

  • Doubling, by 2030 the production of and access to food
  • By 2030, eliminating chronically malnourished people
  • By 2030, doubling production while reducing intensity of water and energy use by 15 percent per unit produced
  • By 2030, ensuring ag systems are adaptable through better increased access to extension
  • By 2030, ensuring access to basic resources in rural areas of land, water, infrastructure, thus increasing rural development by 30 percent

We need diverse agricultural systems of all sizes, including specific programs to meet the needs of small-holder farmers, including women. To achieve this, agriculture requires more rural development and a specific goals to foster both investment and development funding. At last, the world is remembering where our food comes from. It is a good consensus to see being formed.