Put agriculture at the top of the global agenda: open letter

by 23 international development and agriculture NGOs
Monday, 12 October 2015 13:23 GMT

An Amatheon Agri farm employee walks through a soya bean field in Nwoya district in northern Uganda, July 18, 2015. REUTERS/James Akena

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* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In the lead up to World Food Day, we are calling on leaders to put agriculture at the top of the global agenda

An open letter to world leaders and the international community:

Thank you for your efforts in helping to agree to the Sustainable Development Goals. Getting to this point has not been easy. It has required a huge amount of commitment and effort from a great many people. All this hard work has been worthwhile. The sheer comprehensive ambition of the SDGs means that, if they are achieved, the lives and opportunities of many hundreds of millions of people will have been transformed. 

Each goal is important, and it’s their collective impact which will set our world truly on the path to a sustainable future. But without tackling hunger and malnutrition, the platform on which to build wider progress will simply not be in place.  Hunger and malnutrition trap people in poverty, make them more vulnerable to disease and prevent children going to school. And malnutrition alone plays a role in the deaths of nearly half of children under five. The overwhelming majority of those surviving on less than $2 a day depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. This puts agriculture and farmers at the heart of the SDGs.

In the lead up to World Food Day (October 16), we are calling on leaders to put agriculture at the top of the global agenda, to hold themselves and others accountable to promises made and to plug the financing gaps on the ground, all the while prioritizing smallholder farmers, without whom we cannot meet the challenge of feeding nine billion people by 2050. We know that the challenge will be even harder as the climate worsens, as farmers have to cope with more droughts, pests and crop diseases that threaten their livelihoods.

The agreement of the global goals in New York last month gives us the opportunity to galvanize the political will we need to get to zero hunger: by mapping the problem with better data, building a strong accountability framework, and transparently tracking the financing resources needed to achieve results on the ground.

So we must seize this opportunity now and set a path towards ending hunger and malnutrition by 2030. The lead you give over the next few months starting with the pledges you make at the COP21, which could transform the lives of millions of farmers, will shape our world for decades to come. By transforming agriculture we can transform lives and economies. It all starts with farmers.

In the lead up to World Food Day and COP21, follow the conversation here - #StartsWithFarmers and on our website

Yours sincerely,

ACDI/VOCA (Agricultural Cooperative Development International / Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance)
Action Against Hunger
American Jewish World Service
Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Bread for the World
Congressional Hunger Center
Church World Service
Farm Journal Foundation
GAFSP (Global Agriculture and Food Security Program)
Global Poverty Project
Helen Keller International
INMED Partnerships for Children
IntraHealth International
Islamic Relief USA
Lutheran World Relief
One Acre Fund
Project Concern International
Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance