This week, the United Nations will officially adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – an ambitious set of targets that will shape international development programmes all over the world.
At Shamba Shape Up, we have been working with East Africa’s smallholder farmers on many of the issues that feature in the SDGs. As some of the world’s poorest populations, our educational TV show helps farmers become more productive, thus ending poverty in their communities (goal one). We also equip them with tools to combat climate change (goal 13) and to sustainably manage water (goal six).
As part of Farming First’s new creative project “The SDGs and Me”, we interviewed a farmer we worked with to find out what he hoped the SDGs would bring to his community in Karatina in Kenya.
“The cost of farm equipment required by small scale farmers is rising,” Michael comments. This includes equipment for labour production to fertilisers and agro-feeds for animals. This, in turn, leads to increased costs of production that are passed on to consumers through expensive, unaffordable products. It is difficult to market these products, especially when producers compete with imported products that cost less. “I hope our government will encourage consumption of local products and rely on food imports less,” he told us. “This will provide a platform to invest in exportation to foreign markets, increasing in revenue for farmers.”
To keep costs down and improve productivity, Michael has joined farmer union,that hire out equipment and provide inputs at a subsidized cost. He has also signed up for our free SMS service “iShamba” that gives farmers access to agricultural experts, to ask questions and get advice.
“iShamba has taught us both a great deal about the effects climate change has on the region, such as erosion, changing weather patterns, drought and desertification through deforestation,” says Michael. “These are all things we knew little about and are not discussed widely among the farming community or government.”
Michael also hopes the government and private sector will invest in research and development of better inputs, for increased productivity “That will eventually end hunger, and also show businessmen that the agricultural sector is as fulfilling as any other industrial sector in the economy.”
To hear what the other farmers hope for from the SDG process, visit Farming First’s website to view the collection of ten farmer stories collected from around the world.