Let’s put in more effort to achieve SDG 2 by Year 2030


Nyeri residents participate in a procession to mark the World Mental Health Day in Nyeri town on October 11, 2022.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

In a bid to achieve sustainable development, the UN adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 that consist of 17 interlocking objectives.

The SDGs touch on pertinent issues affecting humanity—including zero hunger, good health, quality education, gender equality, clean water, affordable and clean energy, peace, justice and strong institutions, climate action, innovation and other tenets key for better human life.

The nexus connecting all these is SDG 2, which aims at eliminating hunger and malnutrition, promoting sustainable agriculture and improving smallholder farmers’ livelihoods, especially in developing countries. It specifies a target for all countries to achieve food and nutrition security by 2030.

With the deadline so near, the challenge of achieving its target is cut out for Kenya. Food security is still not assured for millions of citizens. Undernourishment globally has declined by about four per cent over the past decade, Unicef Kenya estimates that a quarter of Kenyan children under five are stunted. Stunting, the most common form of undernutrition, can have detrimental effects like diminished mental and physical development.

The “2023 Global Hunger Index” ranks Kenya 90th out of 125 with a score of 22.0, meaning it still faces a serious level of hunger. It is estimated that, in 2023, some 4.5 million Kenyans suffered a severe food crisis and needed humanitarian assistance.

Kenya’s food insecurity is attributable to factors such as lack of productivity improvement. For almost all staple crops, there is a wide gap between potential and actual yields. Besides climate change and depleting soil fertility, the problem is exacerbated by factors such as the low soil fertility of bread-basket counties like Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu, a major hindrance for growing cereals.

The organic matter content of soil decreases with continued cultivation, especially of the same crop. In response to the increasing population, more food is needed. Inorganic fertilisers and sustainable intensification are thus essential in improving crop production and ensuring food security.

To maximise yield gains, intensive fertiliser application must be accompanied by improvements in nutrient efficiency. A large part of crop production in Kenya is determined by how much fertiliser farmers apply and the associated nutrient losses.

From the profound impacts of climate change to the adverse impacts of rapid urbanisation, the achievement of SDG 2 requires a holistic approach.

It is crucial to invest in agricultural infrastructure—like irrigation, proper storage of foods, transportation and food processing—to enhance agricultural output. For equitable agricultural development, we must overcome barriers to resource allocation, technology diffusion and regulatory frameworks and invest in better farming practices through innovation and improved seed varieties.

Assessing advancements continuously is crucial to determining how far SDG 2 has progressed. Stakeholders must be involved and efforts coordinated with sustainable agriculture and nutritious dietary habits promoted holistically.

- Dr Ngeno is an agricultural economist at Moi University. [email protected].