Mwanza, Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) has committed itself to ensuring increased production and consumption of nutritious foods at all levels by encouraging smallholder farmers to grow crops that have high food nutrients content to reduce stunting.
FUM President, Alfred Kapichira Banda made the commitment on Saturday at Chiwembu community ground in Senior Chief Nthache during the national launch of Adolescent Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (ANSA) Project for Mwanza and Ntchisi targeting 6, 000 adolescents aged between 10 and 19.
These days we are sensitizing our smallholder farmers in clubs and cooperatives on the importance of consuming nutritious food at household level to encourage them to ensure that such crops are considered in their farming, said Banda.
He said the project was targeting the youth so that it is easily scaled-up and have the efforts effectively sustained.
Some of the interventions of the project include provision of nutrient-rich seeds to groups of 20 members at group village head level, distribute various crops and fruits and train the youth in modern agricultural technologies through demonstration plots.
Through such interventions, we expect increased production of nutritious foods to be realized in the country as such, consumption of such food among households will be increased, said Banda.
He added that the youth would also be trained in life skills depending on age and gender.
Another interesting part of the project is that since it targets the youth, therefore, nutrition sensitive agriculture is expected to be enhanced and sustained because the knowledge will be passed on from one generation to another, he said.
However, he appealed to partners in the agriculture sector to ensure that planting seeds and materials of the nutritious crops (yellowish) such as maize, potatoes were supplied to the youth clubs on time and also make the same accessible by smallholder farmers through agro-dealers.
There is need of collaboration among stakeholders to ensure that there is availability of potential buyers of these nutritious crops so that farmers can also benefit, Banda said.
Speaking in an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana) after the launch, Principal Secretary for Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Gray Nyandule Phiri called on the youth in the country to embrace the project.
He said the project was one way of answering some of the nutritional problems that Malawi has been experiencing in the past due to consumption of less nutritious food.
This is a positive development because it is part of the MGDS 3 where nutrition is one of the priority areas, which, if linked to sectoral level, is in line with National Agriculture Policy.
This policy is operationalized by implementing the National Agriculture Investment Plan, said Phiri.
The main aim of the policy is to transform the agriculture sector by taking it merely from subsistence farming to be commercial and at the same time, responding to malnutrition challenges being experienced in the country, Phiri added.
He asked the youth in the two participating districts of Mwanza and Ntchisi to maximize the initiative to improve access to livelihood opportunities.
FUM is implementing the three-year pilot phase project from 2018 to 2021 with funding from the Japanese Social Development Fund through the World Bank in collaboration with Malawi Government.
Source: MANA Online