Ntchisi — Farmers Union (FUM) with support from Japan Social Development Fund through the World Bank has launched a nutrition project in Ntchisi District.
Known as the Adolescent Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (ANSA), the project is being implemented in Traditional Authority Chilooko's area in the district.
Speaking during the launch at Masokole Primary School in the area this week, Director of Nutrition in the Department of Nutrition and HIV/AIDS (DNHA), Felix Phiri, said the project will reduce stunting which is currently at 37 per cent.
"This project is in response to the 37 per cent stunting rate in the country which is on a higher side since the World Health Organisation cut off point is at 40 per cent," he said adding that prevention of stunting requires a multi-sectoral approach.
The director said since the project, which is at pilot phase, is targeting the youth, it is expected stunting rate will be reduced as the young people will be equipped with skills on production as well as consumption of nutritious foods.
In his remarks, FUM President Alfred Kapichira Banda said it is worrisome to note that despite producing a lot of crops, Ntchisi has high stunting levels which he attributed to a tendency among most communities selling everything they produce from their gardens.
"I would like to urge you to refrain from selling everything that you produce and make it a habit that you set aside enough food to be used at home and only sell the surplus," said Kapichira Banda.
Traditional Authority Chilooko welcomed the project, saying it would promote utilisation of nutritious foods and improve access to livelihood opportunities among selected female and male youth in the area.
Under the project, the youth are provided with seed for nutritious crop varieties as well as practical training through demonstration gardens. They practice whatever they learn in their respective individual gardens.
The project, which also has a component of sexual and reproductive health to help reduce early pregnancies among the youth, is also being implemented in Mwanza District.
About 6000 young people are expected to benefit from the project.