FAO in Malawi commemorates World Food Day
In collaboration with the Government of Malawi and other partners, FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP) teamed up to commemorate the World Food Day under the theme: “Climate is changing. Food and Agriculture must too.” The commemoration was held on 26 October 2016 at Kamterwe Primary School ground, in Champhira Extension Planning Area, Mzimba South, with the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Dr George Chaponda, MP, as special guest. The day started with site visits to an Oil Processing Factory, Irrigation Scheme and a Community Based Child Care Centre (CBCC) followed by a viewing of pavilions, dances, theatrical performances, music and speeches. Once again, FAO and WFP hosted a joint pavilion showcasing various climate change adaptation activities such as energy saving stoves, compost manure, tree seedlings and other early maturing and high yielding crop varieties.
In his speech, the Minister of Agriculture called for an end to doing business as usual in the agricultural and food sector, saying that there is a need to change ways of managing agriculture and food in the country, given the challenges posed by climate change. While emphasizing the importance of promoting diversification in agriculture and livelihoods, the minister also appealed for change in dietary habits in order to fight the high stunting rate among children, which is currently at 37 percent. “As government, we have an ambition to make sure that hunger and stunting reach zero by 2050; this is our ambition,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of all UN agencies, FAO Representative Florence Rolle reminded every Malawian that the strategy to adapt to climate change is theirs and will depend on many factors such as the size of their household, the size of their garden, the assets they own, and the age of family members, among others. “Each Malawian has to decide for him/herself what the best strategy is for adapting to a changing climate,” she said. According to Rolle, Malawians should be aware of available technologies, agricultural practices, and existing employment or business opportunities so as to be able to adapt to climate change and therefore she pleaded with the government to strengthen its extension system, while also calling on NGOs and farmers organizations to strengthen their provision of extension services. Rolle identified two broad strategies that are important in Malawi: The first one is about trees while the second one is about diversification of food production and consumption. She gave examples on how by diversifying food production and planting trees people can be better off in terms of both nutrition status and income. “Diversifying your production will give you an opportunity to be more resilient. So don’t rely on one crop” she said. Rolle ended her speech by advising against cooking nsima every day and by adding the five other food groups to their meals. She ended her speech by re-affirming the UN’s commitment to supporting the Government of Malawi in ensuring that the agriculture and food sector adapt to climate change.
This year’s World Food Day was commemorated jointly with the Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security under the theme: “Investing in Food systems for improving Child Nutrition: Key to Africa’s Renaissance.”