Stakeholders at the recent district independent food systems dialogue meeting in Mchinji resolved to implement various initiatives and programmes that would contribute to the reduction of malnutrition levels by 50 percent by 2030.
The Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) organized the dialogue meeting with financial support from the Development Fund of Norway under the Sustainable Food Systems for Rural Resilience and Transformation (TRANSFORM) Programme.
Currently, malnutrition hovers around 44 percent, a situation the stakeholders have described as worrisome and a threat to the development of the district.
The meeting therefore initiated a district stakeholder dialogue of critical nexus issues that are key for sustainable food systems in Mchinji through interconnection and engagement with the food systems summit process.
The dialogue also created a platform for discussion on the design of what it would take for a future sustainable food system for the district that delivers nutrition outcomes and sustainable consumption patterns by 2030 and how district stakeholders can work together to achieve the goal.
CEPA Programme Coordinator Alfred Kambwiri said the dialogue was designed to feed into both the national and global UN dialogues on food systems ahead of the global food systems summit, which will be held later this year.
“The dialogue created a platform for discussion on the design of what it would take for a future sustainable food system for Mchinji district that delivers nutrition outcomes, and sustainable consumption patterns by 2030, and how district stakeholders can work together for such a future,” said Kambwiri.
Among others, the dialogue noted challenges that need to be addressed for the desired future that included district coordination for nutrition outcomes with different departments and institutions implementing nutrition programs without convergence in the planning and reporting of those efforts.
Mchinji District Hospital Nutrition Officer, Cassius Mkandawire, said they have agreed that local institutions for nutrition extension should be strengthened to support delivery of nutrition outcomes, as there are fewer nutrition extension workers who are also overstretched.
Mkandawire added that stakeholders agreed to make local markets work for the smaller farmers through adherence to farm-gate prices, stressing that this could go along a way to support nutrition outcomes at household level.
Presently, farmers sell a greater proportion of their produce to meet their monetary requirements at the expense of their nutrition outcomes.
“The district still has some cultural beliefs on some food items not fit for children and women, with households over-reliance on maize based diets with low nutrition value. Covid19 pandemic is also having a significant impact on local food systems affecting nutrition outcomes. There is generally lower public investment in nutrition programmes,” he said.
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