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Low malnutrition levels worry Graca Machel

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Graca Machel, has appealed to Malawians to plant orchards to reduce impact of malnutrition on children

Machel is a Mozambican politician and a philanthropist. She is the widow of both former South African President Nelson Mandela and of Mozambican president Samora Machel

Her pleas make sense in a country where 37 percent of children are malnourished.

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She made the remarks after visiting a farm at Nsundwe, Lilongwe, where African Women in Agribusiness (Awab) has launched a network of 100 rural based agro-dealers.

Machel said farmers should not only plant crops to sell but should also plant fruits for consumption.

“Plant around your place a small orchard. We have to do this because our nutrition is very poor. People should plant oranges, bananas and other fruits and I am serious about this,” she said.

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The network that Awab has launched has been branded Vuna which is a programme of the government of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).

“Looking at income yes but we also have to look at what we eat because we have a serious problem with these little ones (children),” she said.

Awab Chief Executive Officer Lilly Musaya said the idea is to make available quality seeds in areas that are not served.

“We want to increase the adaptability of seeds in rural areas. Weak input markets make legume inputs inaccessible. For instance, in eight communities visited during a needs assessment conducted by Women in Agribusiness in sub- Saharan Africa Alliance (WASAA) in 2005, in Malawi and Zambia among other countries, non of them had an agro dealer shop at community level,” she said.

Chief Director in the Ministry of Agriculture Yanira Mtupanyama said the initiative will provide structured and organised business that can compete on international trade.

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