22 February 2018
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Tuesday, 05 December 2017 13:14

Malawi still behind in food diversification issues

Written by  Fostina Mkandawire

Lilongwe, December 5: A report on Food, Nutrition and Climate Change Resilience Policy has revealed that despite numerous efforts to improve food diversification in the country, there are still gaps that need to be filled to ensure food diversity is met.

The policy, which was commissioned by CARE international with technical assistance from CISANET, was aimed at providing an overview and analysis of policies affecting and influencing food security and nutrition as well as climate change resilience among farming communities in Malawi.

Making a presentation during a validation workshop of the policy in Lilongwe on Monday, Agriculture Expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula said in Malawi national food security is mainly defined in terms of access to maize, the main staple food. Thus, even if the total food production is above the minimum food requirement, the nation is deemed to be food insecure.

He said over dependence on Maize as a staple food has crippled efforts to focus on other food crops such as cassava and potatoes to be counted as equally important.

“This narrow understanding of food security originates from the consumption behaviour of Malawians who have traditionally considered nsima which is made from maize as a daily food,” he said.

“Although there has been an increase in maize yield since the beginning of implementation of Farm Income Subsidy Program (FISP), the major national program that subsidizes fertilizer and improved seed primarily for maize cultivation, Malawian diets remain poorly diversified because of over dependence of Maize.

“This has led to the increase in cases of acute malnutrition which is estimated at 357,699 in children under five years of age, and an overall 36 per cent malnutrition in the country,” added Nkhono Mvula.

 

He stressed the need to sensitize small holder farmers on the significance of consuming part of what they harvest instead of selling all their harvest, as this leaves them with less diversified food to consume.

“Farmers usually think they are making loses if they consume part of their livestock, or crops, as they only eat what is left after selling everything, this is a leading factor in causing malnutrition,” he said.

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