It’s official. We now have a framework for solving some of the most pressing challenges we face as a global population. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will shape development programmes from now until 2030, and we believe one group of people stands at the cross-section of achieving several of these 17 goals.
Throughout the negotiation process for the completion of the SDGs, Farming First has been working to show that the world’s farmers, when equipped with the tools and technologies they need to prosper, can make a profound contribution to several of the SDGS, from ending hunger and poverty to ensuring gender equality and fighting climate change.
We spoke to ten farmers around the world to find out how they hope the SDGs will be put into action in their own countries. How will they embrace the goals? What help do they need to succeed? Which SDGs can they tackle? Read three of the stories featured in our multimedia series to hear what these farmers had to say, and how Farming First supporter organisations are already helping them to bring these changes to life.
Bernadette Sossou is a vegetable farmer Grand Popo, Benin. Above all, she would like to see the government set up an agricultural bank to enable growers to own their land. “Cities are rising and land has become much more expensive; one hectare can cost up to 18 million CFA francs,” she told us.
Bernadette is now getting some access to credit, thanks to the IFDC 2SCALE training scheme, that taught good agricultural practices on a learning plot. She received a credit of 2 million francs, that allowed her to grow 1 hectare of onion and 1 hectare of tomato. By selling her products to merchants that 2SCALE linked her to, she was able to repay the loan and make a profit of nearly 6 million CFA francs. On this new basis of trust with the microfinance institute, this year Bernadette received a credit of 5 million CFA francs, which allowed her to install a sprinkler irrigation system. “Three or four years ago, I could not imagine such changes,” says Bernadette. But to really ensure the food security of her family, and keep her six children in school, Bernadette knows she needs more secure ownership of her land.
“As head of my household, it is with this money that I feed my family. For example, for my eldest son, the university fees are more than 300,000 francs a year. I am not speaking of those who are in high school. I do not count the money that goes into healthcare. All this comes from this garden. If we were to be sold to investors to build villas, what would I do?”
SDGS covered: Ending poverty (1), ending hunger (2), healthier lives (3), inclusive education (4), empowerment of women (5)
Chieng Sophat grows cucumbers and beans in the Battambang province of Cambodia. He faces a host of climactic problems. “I’ve been farming since the 1980s, and I’ve always had trouble making money,” he told us. “Flooding is a serious problem that can wipe out entire crop cycles, and it’s one that will only get worse as the effects of global climate change intensify.”
A recent study has found that Cambodia will see increased temperatures of 0.3-0.8oC and 13-35 per cent more rainfall by 2015. That is why Chieng wants to see the SDGs to create irrigation solutions for farmers like him. “The water from the Mekong River can be better managed to store and distribute water to areas with water scarcity,” he said.
The programme Cambodia HARVEST, implemented by Fintrac has introduced Chieng to improved techniques that help him manage the water on his farm. Raised planting beds have enabled Chieng’s crops to develop stronger and larger root systems, in addition to helping prevent soil erosion. Plastic mulch – thin sheets of material that cover raised beds used in combination with drip irrigation – retains soil moisture during the dry season and contributes to improved water management practices. In the rainy season, plastic mulch repels heavy rains and keeps beds intact during floods.
“I’m happy with these new methods,” Chieng said. He has doubled his yields, using the extra income to pay for his children’s school and household improvements.
SDGS covered: Ending poverty (1), ending hunger (2), healthier lives (3), inclusive education (4), sustainable management of water (6), combating climate change (13)
In Bangladesh, a lack of awareness and availability of quality agricultural inputs are badly impacting higher yields of smallholder farmers, their income and food security. Anwar Hosen, an agro-dealer from the Jheneidah district in Khulna, Bangladesh, told us he used to sell seeds, fertilizers and crop protection products at his shop without any professional training or specialist knowledge.
Now, thanks to a Feed the Future initiative, implemented by CNFA, agro-dealers like Anwar have been trained to know more about high-quality agricultural inputs, and are able to access them more easily.
Since his training, Anwar has seen the yields of his farmer clients improve greatly – demonstrating what a difference quality seeds and fertilizers can made. This is why Anwar hopes that companies and the governments come together to produce and promote quality inputs. “Distribution channels also need to be more efficient to supply seeds and fertilizer on time,” he told us.
SDGS covered: Ending poverty (1), ending hunger (2), healthier lives (3), promote economic growth (8), combating climate change (13)
To find out more about what the SDGs mean to farmers all over the world, visit Farming First’s collection of stories “The SDGs and Me”, out now.