290 000 food insecure

Namibians, especially in urban areas, have been warned against the culture of not preparing meals at home and depending on supermarkets, fast food outlets, food street vendors and takeaway restaurants.

21 October 2019 | Agriculture

About 290 000 people in Namibia are experiencing food insecurity during the ongoing drought, resulting in many suffering from malnutrition.

Agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb said the Crop Prospects, Food Security and Drought Situation Report indicates that Namibians were only able to produce about 25% of the country's staple cereals like maize, wheat, pearl millet and sorghum this year, compared to the usual 60%.

This was revealed at a World Food Day commemoration at Outapi last week.

Namibians have also been warned against the culture of not preparing meals at home, especially in urban areas, where they depend on supermarkets, fast food outlets, food street vendors and takeaway restaurants.

The Namibian Vulnerability Assessment Committee (NAMVAC 2019) and the Crop Prospects, Food Security and Drought Situation Report also indicated that the number food insecure citizens is expected to rise during the 2019/20 consumption period.

World Food Day is dedicated to tackling global hunger. Held annually on 16th October, people from around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate worldwide hunger in their lifetime.

It also celebrates the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) with events organised in over 150 countries, making it one of the most celebrated days on the United Nations calendar.

In Namibia the day was commemorated at Outapi in Omusati region with an event organised by FAO and the agriculture ministry.

A small mountain of food was distributed to selected hunger-stricken Omusati households.

“We have moved from seasonal consumption of plant-based and fibre-rich dishes to energy-dense diets, which are high in refined starches, sugar, fats, salt, processed food, meat and other animal source products, which have negative effects on our body systems,” !Naruseb said.

“Less time is spent preparing meals at home and consumers, especially in urban areas, increasingly rely on supermarkets, fast food outlets, street food vendors and takeaway restaurants.”

!Naruseb said this combination of an unhealthy diet and inactive lifestyles has caused obesity rates to soar, not only in developed countries, but also in low-income countries such as Namibia, where hunger and obesity paradoxically often coexist.

“I would like to call upon all farmers to consider a reorientation of agricultural priorities and move from an emphasis on producing only high yielding crops to meet dietary energy requirements, towards producing a diversity of nutritious foods in sufficient quantities and quality, using smart agriculture technology to meet the population's dietary requirements, while protecting our natural ecosystem.

“Furthermore, farmers should also consider, wherever possible, local smart-scale fishery production as a source of livelihood and a vital and affordable source of food, supporting the needs of local communities,” !Naruseb added.

The FAO country representative Farayi Zimudzi said the current food system is failing to ensure food security for all, or to deliver a healthy diet.

“People are fed, but remain malnourished. World Food Day therefore aims to highlight the need to step up efforts to end hunger and all other forms of malnutrition.

“Let me emphasise that… under-nutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, as well as the condition of being overweight and obesity are all undesirable for such a young nation as Namibia,” Zimudzi said.

“It is clear there is need to change our focus from just producing more food to producing more nutritious food, but also properly processing and preparing that food in order to benefit from all the nutrients.”

Zimudzi added that currently there is little space for fresh, locally produced food, as high-yielding and profitable crops take priority.

“We prefer to buy our tomatoes and spinach in a shop with nice packaging and ignore the availability of fresh, locally sourced produce,” she added.



ILENI NANDJATO

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