African countries asked to improve sustainable food systems

The Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe has asked African countries to commit themselves above food challenges with viable plans and futuristic programming for sustainable food systems.

Lowe said this Wednesday during a virtual African Ministerial Dialogue on UN Food System Summit in Lilongwe.

Minister of Agriculture Robin Lowe attends virtual United Nations Food Systems Summit Dialogue in Lilongwe-pics by Mana (1)

He said the food situation on the African Continent is mainly defined by activities in the agricultural sector with imports that are needed to satisfy the changing diets, mostly in urban and peri-urban areas.

“Currently, our food system mainly includes the production and consumption of maize, rice, roots, tubers, legumes, vegetables, livestock, and freshwater fish products, which already respond to the recommended six nutritional food groups,” Lowe said.

He said despite having these products in our food basket, national conversations on food systems have clearly shown that dependence on maize, low dietary diversity, lack of food safety standards, limited investments in other sectors such as livestock and focus on production are some of the challenges that are derailing our food agenda.

The minister added that recently, these have been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic which has greatly compromised the already vulnerable food system on the continent.

Lowe further said Malawi has managed to maintain high levels of maize production through the implementation of Affordable Input Programme (AIP).

“Our vulnerability lies with climate change, land pressure, low diversity, and low maize productivity. This is indeed the right time for policy action. Despite the current situation, opportunities to sustain the food systems exist within the country and in the region,” he added.

He observed that the country has increased maize production by providing basic food requirements at household level which demonstrated political will that could drive policy actions required to sustain food systems in the country.

Lowe said Malawi is endowed with different agro-ecological zones and this brings opportunities for diversifying agricultural enterprises that are required to improve the food systems.

Executive Secretary for Regional Universities Forum (RUFORUM), Adipala Ekwamu, said African Universities should strive to ensure that their research on food systems should have positive impacts on the people.

Ekwamu said despite having done much research on food systems on the continent, issues of hunger and malnutrition continue to be on the rise.

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