Malawians lack skills in storage of harvested crops — WFP Country Director on World Food Day

By Daniel Namwini, MANA

World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director, Marco Cavalcante has said too many people in Malawi cannot sustainably feed their families or safeguard their communities’ resources for the future because of their lack of skills to handle and store harvested crops.

Malawi’s traditional maize storage system

Cavalcante said this on Friday when Malawi joined the rest of the world in commemoration of World Food Day and Africa Day for food and nutrition security at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe.

He said this lack of skills to manage the storage of harvested crops is one of the biggest challenges Malawian smallholder farmers face.

“Approximately, one third of their hard-earned yields is lost to rodents, weevils and rotting barely a few months after harvesting,” he said.

FAO representative, Zhijun Chen

This was also agreed by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative, Zhijun Chen — who said food losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain, because of poor harvesting techniques, transportation and lack of storage facilities.

He said simple and affordable steps of new food systems can reduce food losses and increase the availability of food on local and regional markets.

The displays during the event

“For instance, having the ability to store it in airtight bags and sell later when the market price is significantly higher means farmers can increase their incomes and improve their families’ food security,” he said.

World Food Day is globally commemorated every year in order to attract new commitments to achieve the ultimate goal of ending hunger.

Minister Lowe sampling some of the food products

Minister of Agriculture, Lobin Lowe also patronised the function and said the event will then go on to promote worldwide awareness for those who suffer from all forms of malnutrition and for the need to ensure food security and healthy diets for all.

This years’ commemoration is under the theme ‘Grow, nourish, sustain, together. Our actions are our future; and resilient food systems toward healthy diets for the vulnerable during emergencies’.

Minister Lowe said the theme “resonates well with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, which emphasizes not only the need to end hunger but, also the need to achieve food security by improving access to nutritious food while using sustainable agricultural production methods”.

He also said this year, the World Food Day is being commemorated in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which globally hit many countries including Malawi.

“COVID-19 is not the only threat to our lives, we have also experienced catastrophic disasters like livestock disease outbreaks, droughts, floods, among others disasters which have affected livelihoods of people at household level and loss of life in other cases,” he said.

These disasters, Lowe said, disrupt progress of many economic activities in public as well as private sectors, which result in reduced productivity and income.

He also said marketing of commodities has been affected due to movement restrictions put in place to control the spread of COVID-19 and foot and mouth diseases for cattle leading to reduced income for many households.

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