World Food Day is celebrated worldwide on 16 October. This year’s theme was “ Our actions are our future: a zero hunger world is possible by 2030”. But can Malawi achieve zero hunger by 2030?
Malawian soils are slowly eroded and increasingly poor in nutrients, trees are becoming fewer and far between, the fall army worms spread throughout the maize fields last season, floods and droughts are happening with increased frequency and intensity, population is growing while land size is shrinking, to name a few of the challenges the agriculture sector is facing.
Achieving Zero hunger by 2030 is not going to be an easy task, but despite the challenges, I do believe it is within reach for Malawi.
What is certain is that the business as usual approach does not work anymore for Malawian agriculture.
Malawian farmers are shaping the future of food and nutrition in this country. They are the custodians of knowledge and traditional practices that are vital for the food systems to function.
But they are also smart and innovative people, and, provided with the right tools and knowledge, we can be confident that they will take up the challenge of transforming Malawian agriculture.
Actually, some good successes already exist. The EU funded Kulima programme supports Farmer Fields Schools in ten districts of Malawi. Extension workers and farmers are enthusiastically testing new techniques and taking decisions on what and how to produce, in full respect of their local agro-ecosystems. The programme reduces risks and use of pesticides through the application of integrated pest management (IPM) practices.
Crop diversification, intercropping and application of organic fertilisation are just few of the simple techniques promoted and used by farmers.
These techniques facilitate fixation in the soil of different nutrients, improve plant nutrition and increase soil water retention.
They have proven effective to regulate pests and diseases, such as fall armyworm. They also allow for a more effective and sustainable use of the limited natural resources of the country.
Achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 is not only about producing more by making better use of the limited resources. It is ensuring that consumers have access to nutritious and diversified food. Malawians should be in a position to choose healthy diets for themselves and their children, and being proud to source locally their food, to the extent possible. Support to agricultural and dietary diversification, integration of nutrition education in schools and training institutions, advocacy and communication for social behavioural change are core activities of the EU funded Afikepo programme. The programme will assist Malawian children to grow healthy and achieve their full social and economic potential.
Changes are happening at the grassroots level. We see a lot of positive stories emerging of farmers growing more diversified crops and families cooking nutritious and locally sourced meals.
But this will not be enough. They can be sustained only if covernment stimulates such changes when formulating policies and taking decisions, including on budgetary allocations.
Government resources are limited, but if well invested, they can contribute to achieve the zero hunger target. Every kwacha spent on agriculture diversification, extension, research, education, prevention of malnutrition, is a long term investment to safeguard Malawian’s children future and contribute to social and economic growth.
The European Union is proud to contribute to zero hunger by 2030 in Malawi and work hand in hand with the government so it can make zero hunger a reality for all Malawians. n