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Vice-President, Saulos Chilima, has said productivity losses and lower educational attainment due to poor nutrition costs our country over 10 percent of gross domestic product every year.

Chilima was speaking on Thursday at the opening of a round table discussion christened Compact 2025 to discuss ways of ending hunger and malnutrition in Malawi at Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe.

The meeting has been organised by International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri).

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“Hunger and under nutrition are not only human tragedies, they also lead to massive economic losses to our country.

“Compact 2025 offers a unique opportunity for Malawi to overcome these challenges by filling critical knowledge gaps; supporting ongoing and complementary initiatives for ending hunger and under nutrition; and learning from our own and each other’s experiences,” Chilima said.

He said, over the past decade, there has been an average of 1.4 million people facing food shortages each year; even in years of surplus production and despite strong investments in agriculture.

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“Furthermore, the recent floods and droughts caused by El Niño have exacerbated the situation, putting millions of people in a state of food insecurity. Hunger is an urgent problem that we must address now,” he said.

Chilima said, in addition, undernutrition is a persistent challenge as 42 percent of children under the age of five are stunted – a reflection of chronic undernutrition and a condition that hinders physical and mental development, and lowers the potential of a child throughout their entire lives.

Chilima, who accepted the invitation of Ifpri’s Director General to serve on the Compact2025 Leadership Council, stressed that the need to work together in order to accelerate progress as the country moves forward on Compact 2025, saying: “Problems cannot and will not be solved in isolation. We need strong coordination so that all sectors and government levels effectively collaborate under the same goal.

Further, hunger and under nutrition are not problems that the government can solve alone. We need all actors to work together to accelerate progress.”

Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, George Chaponda, said government agenda is to ensure that the people of Malawi eat nutritious food so that we minimise the danger of some of the diseases such obesity, diabetes and so forth.

He said the discussions also collaborate with government’s efforts through diversification and not to rely much on rain-fed agriculture but turn to irrigation to ensure that people have nutritious food all year round.

Ifpri, Director General, Shenggen Fan, said, in the context of an ongoing food crisis, this discussion will explore how Malawi’s agriculture and social protection programming can better ensure that all Malawians have all the food groups available, accessible and utilised every day and are resilient to shocks.

Malawi joined Compact2025 in 2015.

The overall objective of the roundtable is to build on and support previous and ongoing efforts to accelerate ending hunger and undernutrition in Malawi by 2015.

More specifically, the roundtable aims to indentify key knowledge gaps, opportunities, potential synergies and priority areas for research, policy actions and investment.

The discussions will also serve as an opportunity to explore synergies between a variety of actors across sectors in Malawi necessary to achieving food security and nutrition.

The discussions will build on past efforts and existing agreements to develop practical action plans for eliminating hunger and undernutrition in the country.

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