Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima Tuesday addressed the high-level inaugural meeting on agriculture and food security under the Malabo Montpellier Forum in Cotonou, Benin.
Dignitaries at the meeting included Benin’s Minister of State for Planning and Development, Abdoulaye Bio Tchané, cabinet ministers, representatives of multilateral and bilateral development agencies and members of the Malabo Montpellier Panel.
In his speech, Chilima said the Malabo forum is enough evidence that food and nutrition security are top priorities in Africa, adding alot needs to be done for Africa to attain food and nutrition security status.
“This explains why food and nutrition security is a major preoccupation of many governments and development agencies,” he said.
Chilima highlighted several efforts at international, regional and national level aimed at achieving food and nutrition security.
The Malawi vice president said for instance, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals has goal number two which is aimed at achieving zero hunger while the African Union’s Agenda 2063 has its aspiration number one as ‘prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.’
In addition, the African Union declared 2014 as ‘Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa’ as a way of tilting focus as a way of tilting focus towards agriculture and food security.
Said Chilima: ” Further, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) has agriculture and food security and Climate change and natural resource management as two of its strategic directions. The Southern African Development Corporation (SADC) Food and Nutrition Strategy for 2015-2025 has its goal to significantly reduce food and nutrition insecurity in the region by 2025.”
The veep said on national level, ‘Malawi has just completed a development strategy for 2017-2022 where priority number one is agriculture, irrigation development and climate change management.’
Chilima added that ‘the country is also implementing the National Agriculture Policy.’
He however said a lot more needed to be done by, among other interventions, investing in areas that intensify agricultural productivity and food production through irrigation and improved water management
He further said there was need for diversification of production systems and diets with indigenous fruits, vegetables, and grains.
The veep also called for investment in market information technologies, climate resilience building, product standardization, and food safety regulations.
” African agriculture should shift from largely rain-fed to irrigation. Malawi is finalizing National Resilience Strategy to harness efforts and pool resources towards building resilience,” he emphasized.
He further called for regulation enforcement to ensure that counterfeit food stuff are inspected and removed from the market.
“This requires governments and corporations to work together to promote healthier diets and consumption patterns through appropriate food system regulation and controls,” he said.
The Veep called for a holistic and inclusive approach to fighting malnutrition, promoting agriculture and achieving food security in Africa and at national level.
After the official opening of the conference, Chilima went to the Presidential Palace for a closed door meeting with Benin President Patrice Talon where he conveyed warm regards from President Arthur Peter Mutharika and the people of Malawi.
The Conference ends later Tuesday and Chilima is expected back in Malawi on Thursday.