The "Unleashing Agriculture's Potential for Improved Nutrition and Health in Malawi" Conference Report is now finalized and available for downloading.
The report summarizes the presentations, speeches, and discussion outcomes of each conference session from "Setting the Stage" through "The Way Forward," and includes photographs of conference activities as well as informative diagrams and text boxes.
It also contains the Policy Action Note, which represents the major policy relevant outputs of the conference.
It is hoped that this report will serve to further disseminate the mutual learning and the call to action for agricultural strategies that improve nutrition and health in Malawi that arose during the two-day conference.
A major objective of the "Unleashing Agriculture's Potential for Improved Health and Nutrition in Malawi" conference was to produce and share a Policy Action Note that identifies emerging opportunities and strategies to guide and inform key actors on how to create more synergies between agriculture, nutrition and health.
The Policy Action Note is the outcome of presentations and panel and table discussions on making linkages across sectors, building capacity, and investing in evidence-based and responsive research. The note aims to inform and motivate policymakers and planners in the agriculture, nutrition, and health sectors to coordinate and integrate their activities to help Malawi’s agriculture become more responsive and contribute to the nutritional and health status of the population.
The current draft Policy Action Note can be found here.
Video footage of many presentations, speeches, discussions and remarks are now available, along with written summary notes and Powerpoint presentations. They can be found on the "program" page. Just scroll to the speaker's name on the agenda and look for hyperlinks to documentation of his or her remarks.
Photos from the conference speeches, discussions and Knowledge Fair can be found here.
We hope you found the "Unleashing Agriculture's Potential for Improved Nutrition and Health in Malawi" conference enlightening and inspiring.
For your information, you can find speaker presentations and summary notes on the "Program" page of this site.
A full list of conference participants will be available at the end of the week, along with more photos of the proceedings. Video files of the presentations and the final Action Note will be posted at the end of the month.
Please check the site regularly for updates.
"Let's get started" was the general theme after a day and a half of energetic and vigorous discussion and mutual learning during the "Unleashing Agriculture's Potential for Improved Nutrition and Health in Malawi" conference.
Plenary and discussion group leaders emphasized implementation, acting on the existing political will and identifying and using "drivers" to push for action on sectorally linked policies.
More specifically, a major point condensed from Plenary Session 1, " Learning from Global, Regional, and National Perspectives" was that the emphasis should be on nutritional advocacy.
From Plenary Session 2, "Evidence on Agriculture's Contribution to Nutrition and Health Outcomes," the panel highlighted that services to link relevant, targeted research and technology to smallholder farmers should be strengthened, including behavior change communication on nutrition and building on existing agriculture extension efforts.
Plenary 3, "Strengthening the Linkages: Policy Frameworks and Programme" emphasized increasing the visibility and integration of nutrition in the major agricultural strategy, the ASWAp.
Please check back shortly for presentations and speakers' summary notes.
After a short press briefing, Mrs. Margret Lwanda officially opened the Knowledge Fair, where NGOs, Ministry agencies, and donors displayed their programs and activities in agriculture, health and nutrition. Attendees appreciated the free samples of nutritious locally available foods.
The afternoon inaugural session set the stage for the conference. Rajul Pandya-Lorch described the four essential building blocks for nutrition-and health-friendly agricultural development, outputs of the New Delhi 2020 Conference: 1) fill the knowledge gap, 2) adopt a "do no harm" approach, 3) seek out and scale up innovative solutions, and 4) create an environment in which cooperation can thrive.
Purna Wasti, Technical Officer (Food and Nutrition Security) at FAO discussed the role the organization is playing in Malawi to tackle food insecurity and under-nutrition. The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Hon. Prof. Peter Mwanza, M.P. officially opened launched the conference. He emphasized the need to rejuvenate existing links between the three sectors, and to continue existing and begin new projects to diversify food production, encourage biofortification, and encourage research on a variety of commodities that are rich in nutrients.
The day ended with the first plenary session, "Learning form Global, Regional, and National Perspectives." The discussion outcomes of the first session, along with the other discussion sessions will be described in more detail in a later post.
We are pleased to welcome everyone to the "Unleashing Agriculture's Potential for Improved Nutrition and Health in Malawi" Conference this morning. Please check back for an update on today's plenaries and discussion.
Malawi has made tremendous progress in reducing malnutrition over the past half decade, owing to interventions such as child growth monitoring. However, stunting still remains high at 47.8 percent according to a 2010 DHS Survey. In its continuing efforts toward eradicating malnutrition, Malawi has been one of the first countries to launch the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative. The SUN Framework was globally launched in Italy in 2010, and endorsed by more than 100 entities from national governments, the United Nations system, civil society organizations, development agencies, academia, philanthropic bodies and the private sector. It is an emerging worldwide drive to increase investment and the scope of action in nutrition as a key to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Malawi launched its own movement, dubbed the “SUN 1000 Special Days” movement, in June 2011, aided by First Lady Madam Callista Mutharika, who described it as a stepping stone for Malawi’s stride towards reducing malnutrition. The goal of the national movement is to eliminate stunting in Malawi by focusing on children’s first 1000 days, which are critical as they determine whether children can achieve their full potential for cognitive development (UNICEF Media Center). At Malawi’s SUN launch event, the National Nutrition Education and Communication Strategy for preventing child stunting was launched, which will enhance the implementation of the movement.
The upcoming conference in Lilongwe also aims at unleashing the potential of agriculture to enhance the realization of the SUN initiative in Malawi.
Integrated Aquaculture-Agriculture improves welfare, nutrition of HIV/AIDS-affected households in Malawi
Integrating fish farming may have potential to increase farm productivity up to six fold in Malawi, according to researchers, and can also help households affected by HIV/AIDS. The potential lies in the synergies created in Integrated Aquaculture-Agriculture (IAA) systems. Results show an increase of more than 100 percent in household incomes and food security, including households affected by HIV and AIDS.
Recognizing this potential, different institutions have been promoting IAAs in Malawi, including World Vision Malawi, the World Fish Center, Concern Universal, Project Concern International C-Fish, the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MoAFS), Bunda College of Agriculture, and others.
World Fish Center has gone a step ahead, working with households affected by HIV and AIDS to design IAA systems specifically suited to help them access fish as a source of income and nutrition. These efforts demonstrate that developing customized technologies is a critical component in setting an all-inclusive strategy for economic growth among HIV/AIDS-affected families in Malawi. The results from their interventions indicate that IAAs can dramatically improve the ability of families to cope with the effects of HIV/AIDS by doubling household incomes and increasing fish and vegetable consumption by about 150 percent among rural communities.
The upcoming Lilongwe conference seeks to elucidate such evidence and draw lessons on how the integration synergies can be enhanced to respond to the nutrition and health needs of the people of Malawi.
Malawi has registered a national surplus in maize, the staple cereal, of 1.2 million metric tons (MT) over the 2010-2011 agriculture season. It is therefore expected that maize availability at the national level will exceed the country's annual demand for staple foods of close to 2 million metric tons. The remainder of foods needed to achieve food security come from the other five food groups (vegetables, fruits, legumes, animals, and fats) to ensure that the country has both the calories and nutrients needed for a healthy life.
According to FEWS NET reports, the government plans to increase the maize stock in its National Food Reserve Agency granaries from the carryover of more than 160,000 MT to 210,000 MT by the end of September, with funding of more than MWK 1 billion.
This surplus in domestic maize production—largely attributed to good climate, technology, and the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP)—makes Malawi a net exporter of maize to neighboring countries.
However, some areas of the country are likely to experience food insecurity. The Shire Valley districts of Chikhwawa and Nsanje are especially vulnerable due to droughts, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification reports.
Moreover there is still a need to correlate the improved maize production with the nutrition and health status of the country’s population of 14 million. The upcoming conference seeks to solicit evidence to guide policies towards enhancing agriculture’s responsiveness to nutrition and health in Malawi.