In a speech read on his behalf at the weekend by the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Tulia Ackson at the climax of the Nanenane agricultural exhibition held at the John Mwakangale grounds in Mbeya city, Majaliwa said it was a shame to have severely malnourished children in a zone with abundant food.
He stated that stunting levels in southern highland regions have now reached 42.9 per cent which is much higher than the national average of 31.8 percent. The premier said there is so far no clear scientific explanation as to why the problem grows annually even as food production also increases, hence the need for a study to recommend solutions.
He said that regions in the Southern Highlands zone produced 11.4m tonnes of various food crops in the past harvest season, and that the regions collectively surpassed their food production expected levels by 201 percent.
“There is no reason for children to be stunted because you have enough food. I direct regional commissioners to collaborate with stakeholders to conduct research on the source of the problem and come up with strategies on how to end it,” said the premier.
Dr Ackson said that while inspecting different pavilions at the exhibition grounds, she noticed that most food items produced in the regions are nutritious enough to curb stunting.
The Southern Highlands zone is made up of Mbeya, Njombe, Rukwa, Iringa, Ruvuma and Songwe regions.
She challenged leaders in the specific regions to make sure that all agricultural tools displayed at the exhibition reach farmers for improved productivity. She said producing enough food would not only cater for households but also provide raw materials for agro-processing industries countrywide.
Dr Ackson assured residents in the zone that the government will continue to improve transportation infrastructures such as railways, roads and ports to facilitate transportation of agricultural produce to various market places across the country.
“We are also constructing grain storage warehouses, with plans to construct cold rooms for storing horticultural products such as fruits, flowers and vegetables destined for export, she stated.
The government is putting much effort in promoting cultivation of strategic cash crops including tea, coffee, cotton, cashew nuts, avocados and several others, she said, elaborating that the government will provide support to farmers to increase productivity.
Songwe Regional Commissioner Albert Chalamila, speaking for his colleagues, promised to implement all the premier’s directives so as to enable the government to achieve targeted development goals.
The government has disbursed funds for construction of roads including 18bn/- allocated for installation of lights and improvement of various infrastructures at the Songwe International Airport (SIA), he added.