FAO Regional Office for Africa

Rapid food system assessment underway in Malawi

FAO, EU and Government partner for sustainable food systems

© FAO

23 February 2021, Lilongwe—A new assessment of Malawi’s food systems led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Government of Malawi,the Centre International de Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD) and the European Union (EU), is underway, with the aim of identifying blockages and areas for growth, to improve food and nutrition security as well as contribute to sustainable employment and livelihoods, and to building a sustainable planet.

This assessment is also part of the national food systems dialogue, in preparation for the UN Food Systems Summit at which countries will convene to launch bold new actions to transform the way the world produces and consumes food, delivering progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The assessment kicked off on 9 February 2021 and is ongoing for 68 weeks. It comprises the assessment and analysis period, followed by a consolidation of findings through a synthesis workshop at the end of the assessment period.

The rapid food systems assessment is a critical entry point to foster policy and action-oriented dialogue across a diverse range of actors, who have an impact on the food system, from within and outside of the agriculture sector. This is especially important in the current context of COVID-19, which has highlighted the inter-connected nature of our food system with critical areas outside of agriculture, including health, environment and a focus on ensuring territorial balance and equity, FAO Representative Zhijun Chen said regarding the importance of this initiative.

Agri-food systems transformation for sustainable development in Africa

For Malawi, the COVID-19 pandemic and challenges such as climate change have revealed the need to address challenges in the food system, not only for food and nutrition security, but also for sustainable social and economic development.

The assessment will help food systems actors prioritize action and identify priority areas for action in order to drive agri-food system transformation and support Malawi in the achievement of SDGs. It will also guide future work on food system policy and investment, in the context of the recently launched Malawi Vision 2063 and the ongoing review of the National Agriculture Policy.

Speaking earlier this month about its importance in providing insights into the main causes, drivers and actors that are negatively or positively affecting Malawi’s food system, Secretary for Agriculture Mrs. Erica Maganga, said:

“It is pleasing to note that the rapid food system assessment will, among others, generate a systemic understanding on where we are with our food systems, existing gaps and provide recommendations on what needs to be done to address the gaps.”

She stressed the need for food system actors to enquire into the gaps and challenges that are making Malawi fail to achieve key deliverables to allow Malawians address food and nutrition insecurity and to know what best practices or lessons need to be up-scaled as the country implements the Malawi agenda 2063.

The EU is also supporting the rapid food system assessment in Senegal, Burkina Faso and Madagascar, before roll out on a wider scale. This assessment, which comes alongside the Africa Regional Review of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), mirrors efforts at regional level to understand the linkages between food security  and agricultural transformation in African LDCs, and to explore among others, ideas on how to leverage agriculture for the structural transformation of LDCs.

The Africa Regional Review planned for 22 to 26 February is co-hosted by the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the Government of Malawi. It includes a session to be coordinated by FAO -Building sustainable, inclusive and resilient food systems in Africa.

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