Byline: Shabbir Kazmi
As per the United Nations, the number of undernourished people has dropped by almost half in the past two decades because of rapid economic growth and increased agricultural productivity. However, in many developing countries, extreme hunger and malnutrition still remains a huge barrier to development. There are 821 million people estimated to be chronically undernourished as of 2017, often as a direct consequence of environmental degradation, drought and biodiversity loss. Nearly 151 million children under the age of five, being 22 percent of World population, were still stunted in 2017. Asia accounted for nearly two-thirds or 63 percent, of the world's hungry population. Undernourishment and severe food insecurity appears to be increasing in almost all developing regions of Africa, as well as in South America too.
Following UN's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number two titled 'Zero Hunger', an end to all forms of hunger and malnutrition is aimed by 2030, making sure that all people - especially children - have sufficient and nutritious food all year. This involves promoting sustainable agriculture, supporting small-scale farmers and equal access to land, technology and markets. It also requires international cooperation to ensure investment in infrastructure and technology to improve agricultural productivity.
In order to achieve sustainability, economic growth is necessary and is directly linked to achieving food security, improving nutrition and sustainable agriculture. To achieve the goals of food security and sustainability in agricultural sector, emphasis has to be put on amalgamating traditionnel farming methods with innovations in biotechnology and bio-engineering, so as to increase agriculture output in a sustainable way.
Agricultural sustainability can be achieved by utilizing and implementing new techniques of farming, which would increase production of crops to meet demands of growing population. At the same time it would conserve and protect environment and its natural sources. Farming practices need to upgrade towards the use of biological agents in order to maintain sustainability of agriculture and hence the environment. In this context, soil microbial diversity can be an important tool which acts as an indicator for soil health and plant growth. Therefore, harnessing the role of beneficial soil microbes in perspective of agriculture can provide a measure towards achieving sustainability in the...