LILONGWE, Malawi – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. has recently commended Malawi’s anti-hunger efforts. Although the African country still contends with high food prices, increasing inflation rates, and crop shortages, the FAO director general praised Malawi for its commitment “at the highest level to ending hunger and extreme poverty.”
The country currently invests more then 10% of its national budget in agriculture, which is especially vital given that agriculture employs 87% of the population. The FAO and the Malawian government agree that agricultural reform is needed. Most farming in Malawi is subsistence-based, which is often inefficient due to the monoculture of maize and the lack of agricultural technology. Suggested improvements include the diversification of crops, expanded irrigation, increased mechanization and commercialization of the farming industry, and increasing crop production to more than once per year. Due to some recent changes, Malawi has shifted from being an importer to an exporter of maize. Progress such as this offers economic hope for one of the poorest countries in the world today.
Other projects working to combat hunger in Malawi include a Fair Trade macadamia nut collective to provide additional income for farmers, and a FAO-funded community grain bank. This bank allows farmers to store crops that mature when the market is unfriendly, and sell them once it has improved. In an article written for The Guardian, Malawi’s president Joyce Banda touted her country’s membership in the G8 summit’s new alliance for food security and nutrition as an important step in Malawi’s fight against hunger. Banda sees agriculture as a means by which Malawians can increase their income and improve their country’s economy, as well as a measure to expand food security. She claims to have made extreme and risky improvements to Malawi’s government in her first year in office, and points to “early signs of recovery.” These include a steadier exchange rate for the Malawian kwacha, readily available fuel, economic growth, and increased donor support.
Significant strides have been made in Malawi’s fight against hunger, and in its path to recovery. This progress is vital to the country’s future. As President Banda writes, “We have gone too far down the road of transformation to turn back now.”
– Katie Fullerton
Source: The Guardian, Joyce Banda