During a visit to Malawi, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the European Union (EU) Development Commissioner highlighted the need to address malnutrition and food insecurity in the African country, while pledging to work together and support the Government in its efforts to this end.
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said the agency "will continue to support the Government's efforts in promoting food security and nutrition and tackling extreme poverty" so that Malawi stays on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
"Malawi has committed itself at the highest level to ending hunger and extreme poverty. It recognizes the right to food, invests in excess of 10 per cent of its national budget in agriculture, and has transformed itself from an importer into an exporter of maize," he added.
While Malawi has made progress in the fight against hunger, malnutrition remains endemic in the country, with over 47 per cent of children suffering from stunting. This affects their development and also causes increased vulnerability to diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Mr. Graziano da Silva and EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will meet today with President Joyce Banda to discuss the country's challenges on nutrition and food security, and to underline ongoing EU and FAO support in this area.
They will also meet with Malawian ministers and authorities, and will visit a series of EU projects, including food security and agricultural centres, as well as a grain storage facility funded by FAO.
Mr. Graziano Da Silva and Mr. Piebalgs will also meet with representatives of the private sector to discuss the importance of investing in agriculture, which employs 87 per cent of the population and accounts for about 36 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), as well as more than 70 per cent of export revenues.
"The EU and the FAO share the same vision on nutrition and food security, and we will work together to help Malawi, and all of sub-Saharan Africa, to tackle this problem," Mr. Piebalgs said.