The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of targets to be accomplished by all countries in order to build a sustainable future for everyone. These 17 SDGs seek to minimize poverty, eliminate widespread hunger and solve other worldwide challenges. According to WFP Hunger map 2020, if current trends continue, the number of hungry people will reach 840 million by 2030.
With about 163 million people living within a comparatively tiny landmass, Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. It has made great strides from being a country with a persistent food shortage in the 1970s. It was bounded by massive poverty.
But there was even a rapid downturn in poverty, which dropped from 56.6% in 1991-92 to 20.5 % in 2020. Despite the recent improvements in poverty and rising indicators of human development, such as literacy and life expectancy, income and consumption inequalities have increased (UNDP 2005).
The stunting rate (low height-for-age) among children under five years of age, indicating the state of chronic under nutrition, decreased from 55% in 1996-97 to 28% in 2019. In 2012-13 this rate was 42%. Over half lives in slums and rural areas within this 28 percent cannot afford food or other essentials. This means that in spite of remarkable progress there still a large number of children has been suffering by malnutrition.
The progress of Bangladesh is too slow for it to meet the current goals. From the above we can see, 28 % of children under 5 years of age are still affected, which is higher than the average for the Asia region (21.8%). The prevalence of overweight children under the age of 5 is 2.2% and no progress has been made by Bangladesh against rising the figure. Therefore, the progress is not adequate though it’s praiseworthy as well as it would be difficult to achieve the target within 2030.
The farming method should urgently be modernized and made more environmentally sustainable at the same time in order to achieve hunger free Bangladesh. Nevertheless, another major problem in our country is the high rate of pesticides use in farming. Research shows that around 77 percent of farmers used pesticides in a crop season at least once (31 percent applied twice, and the remainder applied 3-5 times).
The fact remains that, using pesticides is detrimental to our health, environment as well. We need to emphasize on organic farming. Farmers, however, face numerous challenges, including a lack of access to resources and services, especially for women farmers; devastating climate-related weather events; and population pressure that restricts access to arable land for many farmers.
Furthermore, a decreasing trend has been observed for the country’s total agricultural land, i.e., a decrease from 91.83 percent in 1976 to 87.69 percent and 83.53 percent over the years 2000 and 2010 respectively.
According to the World Bank, the country is losing agricultural land at an annual rate of 1 percent. Every day, about 219 hectares of cultivable land is declining. If this pattern of loss of agricultural land persists, the total amount of agricultural land in the country will be minimal by 2030 that it would be possible to remove the agricultural sector from the productive sector.
The government of Bangladesh has taken various necessary initiatives to ensure hunger free country, they are doing herculean task to achieve food security and nutrition for all. Nonetheless, it is still a far cry. For ensuring food security, sustainable and modern agricultural crop productivity is required.
Undoubtedly, Bangladesh has made a noticeable progress in this issue, but need to go more and it must extend its efforts to achieve SDG Target 2. Here, GO-NGO collaboration should be strengthened and, promoting nutrition-sensitive agriculture must beefed up.
The writer is a student of the department of public administration, University of Barishal. Email: [email protected]