Agri-Ecology Media, an agriculture and environment lobby group, has called on the Malawi government to support urban farming to boost food security. The group said the measure would counter rapid urbanisation and poor yields in the rural areas, which account for 95 percent of the country's agricultural produce. Charles Mkula, Secretary of the Agri-Ecology Media, said town planners should integrate urban farming into planning policies to maximise the benefits in the welfare of urban dwellers.
"Poor rural agricultural production, inaccessible improved agricultural technology, limited per family farmland sizes and poor income have all failed to meet rural household needs and therefore continue to send hundreds of the country's rural masses to urban centres in search of economic opportunities," he said. Mkula said Malawi's rapid urbanisation coupled with rising cost of living, high urban poverty levels, food insecurity and malnutrition posed a great challenge to government. According to him, urban agriculture would boost household food supply and general food security, employment and income opportunities for the urban population (including migrants from rural areas).
Mike Moyo, manager of the Local Government and Rural Development Ministry's Secondary Centres Development Programme (SCDP), said the organisation was providing communities with modern facilities and
infrastructure such as markets and bus stations to create linkages between urban and rural dwellers. "The infrastructure we have put up has attracted private sector investment and created job opportunities to absorb and check unnecessary migration and overcrowding in larger cities," he said. Moyo said the infrastructure investment by SCDP was helping to bridge the gap between urban, peri-urban and rural activities and giving residents beneficial linkages.
According to the UN human settlements agency, UN-HABITAT, Malawi's rate of urbanisation is the fastest in the world and the landlocked southern African country will need a huge investment in rural areas to stop the rapid migration to towns. million population will live in urban centres, the agency said in a report, adding that three-quarters of urban
Malawians now live in the major cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba. More than 70 percent of the urban poor, the report said, live in squalid unplanned settlements.