Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hungry despite bumper harvests

The government of Malawi claims the country grows enough food to feed their people. However, study's show that hunger is increasing in the country.

Malawi has had bumper crops of Maize over the last three years. Enough maize has been harvested to send surpluses of the crop to neighboring countries.

However, non-governmental organizations that work within the country say that the Malawian government is just looking at the numbers, while not doing enough to get the food to the people.

A story from Voice of America reporter Lameck Masina looks into the disconnect between what the Malawian government says and the reality on the ground. The VOA also has an audio file of the story available to listen to.

The bumper harvest has also benefited hunger-stricken neighboring countries like Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland. Recently president Bingu wa Mutharika, who is also Malawi’s minister of agriculture, has received international recognition for achieving food security. But a number of studies show that most Malawians are still affected by food shortages.

A recent nutritional survey says approximately 30 percent of Malawi’s rural population consume less than the 2,200 kilocalories per day, needed to stay healthy. The report says women of child-bearing age and children under five lack iron, vitamin A, and other nutrients.

As a result of malnutrition, half of the country’s children suffer from stunted growth, with over a third of these children considered dangerously underweight.

Related to this, a study by the NGO Action Aid International indicates almost half of the country’s population experience food shortages up to six months a year. It says most households lack the minimum food requirement of 200kg of maize per person per year.

Chandiwira Chisi is the man in charge of the anti-hunger effort for Action Aid, “When the government says that there is progress, it’s in the macro context, that’s to say if we look at national level, yes, there is food availability in the past three years [but] that is not enough. I am sure that the government would like to see the situation where everyone has got food in this country in the right amounts, right quantities and the right nutritional value.”

1 comment:

findyourfeet said...

Thank you for this interesting post, which prompted my to write an article on my own blog: http://findyourfeet.wordpress.com/category/food-crisis/

Given that the Malawian agricultural policy of defining ‘food security’ in terms of the availability of hybrid maize does not seem to be working the article asks what alternative ways forward might be.

Please do get in touch fyf@fyf.org.uk is you have any comments, suggestions or further information to share.