The World Bank has warned of a historic food crisis that will affect Malawi and the rest of the world due to record high global price indices caused by the war in Ukraine and Covid-19 effects.
World Bank country manager Hugh Riddell was speaking yesterday during the dissemination of the bank’s new research titled ‘Insect and Hydroponic Farming in Africa: The New Circular Economy’, which recommends insect farming for food, animal feed and fertiliser needs.
He said the sub-Saharan Africa region’s system faces food security risks from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its potential further escalation will worsen the current situation.
Riddell said: “There seems to be a natural phenomenon that hunger almost always follows conflict. And conflict negatively impacts economic activity and disrupts access to markets— often affecting smallholder farmers more acutely.
“And as recent events have shown, when countries at war are large exporters of food like Ukraine and Russia, people living thousands of miles away can be impacted by a halt in exports of essential agricultural commodities such as wheat, sunflower oil, and fertilisers.”
He said insect and hydroponic crop farming, for both human food and animal feed, have the potential to increase access to nutritious food, while creating millions of jobs, improving the climate and the environment, and strengthening national economies.
Riddell said together with other investments in climate-smart agriculture, insect technologies are part of a promising menu of solutions that can help countries move their agriculture systems towards greater sustainability and reduced emissions.
He observed that the consumption of insects is not new as there are an estimated one to two billion people globally consuming insects collected in the wild.
Riddell said what is new in Malawi is farming of insects specifically for human and animal consumption to provide a year-round supply.
World Bank lead economist in agriculture and food global practice for Africa Dorte Verner, who presented the research paper, said insects are nutritious and delicious and contains all micro-nutrients that children lack in Africa for their sound growth.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, insect farming is allowed in the country, but those wishing to import must seek the guidance of the ministry as some insects that are acceptable elsewhere are pests in Malawi.
Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources professor of aquaculture and nutrition Jeremiah Kang’ombe said they are doing research on insects farming for both human food and animal feed.
He said they are doing research trials on black soldier fly, cockroaches and meal worms and there is remarkable progress.
Agriculture remains the epicentre of the development agenda for Malawi. It is the source of income for most Malawians, and it employs over 70 percent of the working population.