Scientists must research, advise on ending malnutrition

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Speaking here yesterday at an event to mark the World Food Day week held at the University of Dodoma (UDOM), the former premier aid food scientists have a duty to advise on how solve the nationwide problem of chronic malnutrition.

The Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey of 2015-16 showed that the average rate of stunting in the country among children less than five years stood at 36 per cent.

The situation is even worse in some food rich areas such as Rukwa (56.3), Njombe (49.4), Arusha (36.0), Geita (40.5) and Iringa (41.6).

There is need to come up with new crops that mature fast in an effort to fight malnutrition,” he said.

Speaking at the event, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in Tanzania, Stephen Kargbo expressed commitment towards supporting the government in ending malnutrition through a more nutrition-sensitive approach.

He said even with Tanzania entering the middle-income economy status, deliberate investments have to be made in human resources to reverse prevailing stunting levels, as this situation impairs the physical and cognitive abilities of a significant proportion of children under five years of age.

“FAO, other UN agencies and the European Union (EU) are in support of efforts taken by the government of Tanzania towards ending malnutrition through a nutrition–sensitive approach,” he said.

UN agencies also recognize the commitment for embracing dialogues for policy change to provide better local context and solutions towards eliminating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, he further noted.

The dialogue at UDOM was part of activities organized by the FAO in the weeklong commemoration, where this year WFD coincides with the 75th anniversary of the FAO.

In Tanzania, WFD is being commemorated in Njombe region on the theme: “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our Actions Are Our Future,” with the theme reiterating the need to get back on track towards the goal of achieving Zero Hunger by 2030, he elaborated.

Earlier Prof William Mwegoha, deputizing for the UDOM Vice Chancellor, expressed gratitude to FAO for organizing the debate, underlining that it was important to discuss how to increase food production.

UDOM and FAO have good relations as the latter also supports the university in academic staff training outside the country, he pointed out.

The meeting came at a time when there is dire need to discuss effects of COVID-19 on food production, he stated, elaborating that the aim of the debate is to help increase awareness and knowledge on food production “and it is our hope that it will help provide way forward.”

Globally, over two billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food, while the global population is expected to reach around ten billion by 2050, he added.

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