Food insecurity and malnutrition still rife in Malawi

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Women tending rape seedlings.(©FAO/J. Spaull. Editorial use only. Copyright FAO)

Malawi's recent high-profiled food security policies have failed to rid the country of chronic food insecurity and malnutrition, according to a UN Human Rights expert.

Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, says more than 50 per cent of the country remains stuck in poverty, with many families unable to afford a decent meal and about half of all children in the country suffering from acute or sever malnutrition.

Speaking at the end of his visit to Malawi, Mr. De Schutter says although the country is often held up as an example of how hunger can be tackled by subsidizing inputs for farmers, it is also a case of missed opportunities when too little is done to empower the poor and break cycles of dependency – on chemical fertilizer, on low-paying plantation work, and on tobacco.

He emphasized the need for Malawi to move away from the maize economy and to link agricultural development to nutritional needs.

"Malawi has launched its own version of the green revolution, but it has neglected to invest in the brown revolution of rebuilding the health of the soils and the blue revolution in developing water harvesting techniques that can allow farmers to produce better. This is the story of a country that shows that boosting production is not enough to reduce poverty and to achieve food security. There is a need to diversify production away from maize to other crops for nutritional diets. There is need to ensure that programmes in support of small farmers benefits poorest farmers women as much as men and those who are not well connected and live in in remote areas as well. And there are man improvements that could be made to the policies that are currently in place." 

Mr De Schutter said Malawi's minimum wage, currently fixed at around $ 1.12 per day, is one of the lowest in the world and must be reviewed as it was a major driver of poverty and hunger in the country.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration 1.53″

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