FAO calls for food diversification in Malawi

Food diversification, in both production and dietary patterns has been touted as the best possible means to achieve food security and nutrient sufficiency in Malawian households.

FAO Representative Florence Rolle
FAO Representative Florence Rolle

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Country Representative, Florence Rolle said in the face of climate change effects which have massively played to the disadvantage on many food production processes, diversifying food production is the only way to overcome food shortages.

She was speaking in an interview on the sidelines of commemorations marking World Food Day (WFD) in Mzimba district on Wednesday which were also celebrated alongside the Africa Day for Food and Nutrition.

The FAO Representative said over the years, failure to respond to the changes in climate has prevented households from attaining food security.

“We have advocated for modern farming techniques and all that, but it is now time we also looked at the dietary demands to reduce the stunting levels in the country which are currently at 37 per cent. Our fight to end hunger should also have in mind the nutrition aspect of our diet,” Rolle said.

She also said attaining food and nutrition security is crucial for the country’s ability to manage risks which she felt is an area which needs massive investment.

Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Dr George Chaponda said the country is fighting so hard to improve the nutrition indicators as well as other social economic indicators because Malawi losing so much due to the effects of malnutrition.

He said there is growing evidence that improving food security does not automatically mean you have also improved the nutrition status of the population.

“The effects of malnutrition can be irreversible and are economic in nature. Hunger and malnutrition mostly affect the vulnerable groups such as under-five children, pregnant and lactating women. As a nation it is important to note that we are losing so much due to this situation.

“The losses are incurred through class repetition, loss in agricultural productivity, illnesses, maternal morbidity and mortality among others. With these loses it is difficult to make progress in any development work,” Chaponda said.

The Minister pointed out that if Malawi is to feed its growing population, in a changing climate, the nation needs to make a transition to more productive, resilient and sustainable forms of agricultural activities.

“Sustainable agriculture practices that improve ecosystem health and natural resources management can stop or even reverse the over-exploitation of natural resources and the degradation of ecosystems,” he said.

This year the WFD was being commemorated under the theme, ‘Climate is changing; food and agriculture must change too.’

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