Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Key parts of the Global Goals agenda linked to achieving zero-hunger are “off-track”, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said, in an appeal for much greater public investment in farming.
FAO says that a lack of progress remains the norm, four years since the international community agreed to implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – whose objectives include tackling food insecurity and poor nutrition.
In a new report focusing on Goals 2 (Zero Hunger), 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 14 (Life Below Water) and 15 (Life on Land), the agency also warns of unsuccessful efforts to make farming sustainable, as well as the long-term management of land and ocean-based resources.
According to the study, Sub-Saharan Africa registered the lowest levels of investment in the agricultural sector, despite it being the backbone of most of the economies in the region.
Key findings from the study that covers some 230 countries include data that more than 820 million people are going hungry around the world. That number has been rising for three years in a row “and is back to levels seen in 2010-2011”, FAO says.
Among the report’s other findings is the warning that 60 per cent of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction in the 70 countries for which information is available. This means that out of more than 7,000 breeds that are found in only one country, almost 2,000 are threatened, FAO says.
It notes too that there has been no progress in conserving the animal DNA that would be needed to create new herds in case of extinction, with ongoing efforts to preserve these resources proving to be inadequate. Less than one per cent of the genetic blueprint in herds is currently stored.
While there has been more success in conserving the genetic material of plants, with 5.3 million samples now held in 99 countries and 17 regional and international centres, FAO cautioned nonetheless that crop diversity is still too limited.
The report also warns that one-third of marine stocks are overfished today, compared with 10 per cent in 1974. Highlighting the need to invest in sustainable fishing.
It indicates that the proportion of fish stocks fished within biologically sustainable levels has decreased significantly in developing countries. According to FAO, around 30 per cent of countries still has a relatively low implementation record of key international instruments designed to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.