Malawi has the potential to produce more food for export – FAO

The visiting Director General for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Jose Graziano Da Silva, said on Tuesday that Malawi has the potential to produce enough  food for domestic consumption and export.

Da Silva made the observation during a joint meeting with visiting European Union (EU) Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, and Agriculture Minister Prof. Peter Mwanza at the ministry’s Headquarters in Lilongwe.

He said a recent meeting with President Dr. Joyce Banda in Belgium revealed to him the potential the country has in producing more food products and that his personal visit confirmed the same.

But he said what the small-scale farmers in Malawi needed was to be equipped with marketing skills.

FAO's head José-Graziano-Da-Silva.

FAO’s head José-Graziano-Da-Silva.

Said Da Silva: “With a population of 15 million, over 12 million are people living in the rural areas who practice small-scale farming.

“The challenge we have to overcome is how those farmers can be engaged in improving the marketing of their produce because they know how to produce but they don’t know how to market what they produce.”

The FAO DG also observed the country’s potential in aquaculture and he said with improved exploitation of her resources the country could gain much from its water resources.

He added that in line with UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon’s quest for Zero Hunger Challenge, FAO was working with African Union (AU) and other partners in the continent to scale-up access to enough food for everyone.

“We are not bringing anything new but we want to put together what is already available so that we achieve the Zero Hunger Challenge,” said Da Silva adding that Malawi is one of the four countries where the Organization would concentrate its focus much.

In his remarks, EU Commissioner Piebalgs said his visit was to learn and appreciate the country’s progress, vision and challenges in the area of food and see how best the Union could intervene.

“As one of the development partners who have made a number of interventions in various areas in the country including agriculture sector, it is very crucial for us to understand your challenges,” said Piebalgs.

Before the two spoke, Agriculture Minister Prof. Peter Mwanza updated the two officials on the strides government has taken to ensure accelerated food production and its access to everyone.

Mwanza said President Dr. Joyce Banda’s administration was emphasizing on crop diversification, animal production and value addition as the core pillar of ensuring abundant production in the area of agriculture.

Both the FAO DG and EU Commissioner arrived in the country on Tuesday through Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) for a three-day visit and while in the country, the two are scheduled to have a number of activities among them, an audience with President Dr. Joyce Banda, meetings with various ministers, civil society leaders, and private sector.

Da Silva and Piebalgs will leave on Thursday.

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