Stakeholders in the agriculture value chain have reiterated the need for Malawi to enhance productivity, set up stable markets and minimise post-harvest losses as steps towards sustainable food security in the next decade and beyond.
These areas were outlined at a stakeholders meeting in Blantyre on Monday hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with the United Nations (UN).
The meeting was called to solicit views that will inform Malawi’s position on sustainable food security at the UN Food Systems Summit scheduled for September.
The discussion centred around five action tracks that include ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all, shift to sustainable consumption patterns, boosting nature-positive production, advance equitable livelihoods and building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress.
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Malawi Head of Planning Programming and Partnerships, who also sits as Team Leader for Systems and Technical Planning on UN Food Systems, George Mvula said the initiative follows realisation that progress to achieving the global sustainable development goals is very slow.
“We have nine years to reach 2030 and there is a need for analysis and dialogue to make sure that people discuss and agree on new commitments that have been put in place in order for the world to move towards achieving those goals,” Mvula said.
Agriculture expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula said food gaps persist in both time and space in the country.
“There are some areas that are oversubscribed with enough food such as the north and central but when we go to the south you find that there are always challenges; also you find that in some months we don’t have food; so, the dialogues will try to address that,” Nkhono Mvula said.
Ministry of Agriculture Director of Planning Rodwell Mzonde conceded the challenges in the country and said it was the very reason they engaged stakeholders.
Malawi is an agrarian economy, with about 80 percent of the population living in rural areas.
For decades, agriculture has been standing out as the single largest sector in the national economy.
It is centred upon the production, consumption, and sale of agricultural commodities, largely in raw form.
Most farmers are subsistent, growing only food crops to meet the needs of themselves and their families.
Maize and tobacco are, respectively, Malawi’s staple and top export crops, followed by tea, sugar, cotton, rice and pulses, as major cash crops.