7 March 2018

Botswana: Nutritional Diseases Concern

Maun — Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr Patrick Ralotsia says it is evident that Botswana like most middle-income countries is faced with double burden of under nutrition and overweight.

The coexistence of under nutrition and over nutrition, he said may lead to particular risks such as diabetes and heart diseases.

Officiating at the nutrition mainstreaming for project focal points in East and Southern Africa workshop in Maun recently, Mr Ralotsia challenged participants to come up with interventions that will go a long way in addressing food security and nutrition challenges.

The theme of the workshop was 'Building capacity of project teams on the implementation of agriculture nutrition-sensitive interventions and exploring linkages between nutrition and other cross cutting issues.'

Mr Ralotsia stated that in Botswana, overweight and obesity existed side by side with under nutrition adding that the economic costs of under nutrition and over-weight included direct costs such as the increased burden on the health care system and indirect costs of lost productivity.

"Over 30 per cent of children under the age of five years suffer from stunting or anaemia whereas 50 per cent of adults are overweight or obese. This is a concern that requires us to change our lifestyles," he added.

The minister also noted that the current state of nutrition could be attributed to the limited capacity to address on food security and nutrition in various levels of food systems.

Therefore, he pointed out that achieving food security entailed ensuring quality and continuity of food access as well as quantity for all household members.

He said addressing issues on hunger and malnutrition was complex since it called for collaboration between different sectors, with agriculture playing a key and unique role and wished local farmers could have attended the workshop to appreciate the role they played as far as nutrition was concerned.

He said the seminar was very critical to them as they could understand how much caution they must exercise in process of food production.

He also appreciated the theme of the workshop noting that it was appropriate given the role of agriculture in both human and livestock nutrition.

Furthermore, he indicated that in 2017, Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimated that chronically undernourished people in the world increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016 representing an increase of 5.3 per cent.

A recent study indicated that one third of all undernourished children globally reside in Sub-Saharan Africa stating that thus was an indication of inadequacy of food supply and nutrition.

"Investing in nutrition is paramount towards building and improving human capital which entails improvements in health and labour productivity which I believe are relevant issues in our work towards the contribution to Global Agenda 203," said the minister.

For his part, North West District Council chairperson, Mr Duncan Enga said the seminar came at the right time when the district was experiencing rain in an unusual manner stating that normally the rain season started around November and December and ended beginning of March.

Source : BOPA

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