Researchers in Malawi and Zambia have agreed to embark on a two-year research initiative that would help policymakers address the problem of food insecurity in urban areas.
The research will be conducted at Mzuzu University (Mzuni) and the University of Zambia (Unza).
The two universities will be using Mzuzu and Lusaka cities as case studies as they seek to, among other things, understand how food is supplied to the cities in conditions that would improve the health of residents.
Mzuni Vice Chancellor Wapulumuka Mulwafu confirmed the development, saying the academic institution understands that good policies are a product of credible research, hence embarking on the food security study.
“The research will generate important evidence which can guide policy-makers when coming up with interventions that can help them and other stakeholders address the problem of food insecurity in urban areas. There are poor people in urban areas, with some of the people struggling to have access to food. If the food is available, then quality is not always guaranteed.
“As such, it is important that the research is undertaken so that we can understand how food is produced, how it is transported to urban areas and also made available to people who need it in a condition that could improve their health and nutrition status,” Mulwafu said.
Unza lecturer in the Department of Geography and Environment Studies Gilbert Siame faulted people and policymakers for being concerned with issues of farm produce while doing nothing to control food such as maize lost between the period of harvest and when it is on the market.
“We have a situation where, in some cases, food declines from harvest to the market place. We also want to see how long food is staying from harvest to the market. Therefore, through our research, we will understand how we can reduce food loss and ensure that it stays for a long time in a chain,” Siame said.
The research is being funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
ACIAR Team Leader Leah Ndungu said the government of Australia was funding the project because it supported cross-border initiatives.