Perhaps it’s because the Sustainable Development Goals aren’t being pursued with enough vigour? Possibly it’s the impositions of capitalism. Hey, could be racism, colonialism even.
But, in all this, what breaks my heart is that the current stalling on progress of the global goals means we might end up in the same place in 2030, with nothing new, unless something changes now.
I am calling on the global community to get the goals back on track. It’s true that times have changed. But there is a lot we can do, especially if the rest of the world directly supports the extreme poor, to help them create lasting, sustainable change.
In my region, for instance, the inability of rural farmers to access markets for their produce is the reason they are poor. Farmers need infrastructure to create jobs, and support to get connected to agri companies so they can sell their produce. That way they can tread their own path from poverty.
Well, many of those things will help, yes. But that’s not the cause of this poverty:
It is common for many small farmers in my region to own land that only measures 30ft by 100ft (or 0.07 acres). My own mum, who lives in a secluded village, only has half an acre. People’s incomes are defined not by real estate or industrial projects on their land, but by the crops they grow.
They’re trying to fund an entire life off an allotment.
The problem with this being that the life you can afford is going to be whatever is the value of the production of an allotment. And that’s it.
Or, as we’ve all known for a few hundred years, peasant farming life is poverty. Simply because the upper limit of the life that can be lived from the farm is the value of the farm’s output. And the output from 0.07 of an acre isn’t going to be worth very much – look, even if you’re growing cocaine, coffee, heroin or cannabis it’s not going to be much – therefore the lifestyle it can afford is going to be shit.
The answer is that Uganda needs fewer farmers. Those that remain on larger farms, those that aren’t on the land off doing something else. That is, the place needs an industrial revolution. There is no solution without one simply because of that hard upper limit to income determined by the production of an area of land.
Peasant farming isn’t a solution to anything, it’s what needs to be escaped.