The Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) has emphasized the need the country’s leadership to invest much in agricultural research which is proven to be effective for maximizing production.
The call comes as the nation is seeking practical ways to rejuvenate agricultural systems which remain as an integral part of the country’s economic growth including agricultural research, technology such as conservation agriculture, agro forestry, and smart agriculture.
In his presentation titled, “Trends in public and private sector investment agricultural research in Malawi”, Professor George Kanyama Phiri, Luanar’s Vice Chancellor made to the just ended 2015 CISANET National Conference on Science and Technology for agriculture development which was held on July 29-30, 2015, he stressed the need for the country’s leadership commitment to 2004 Maputo Declaration which requires African governments to obligate at least 10% of their national budgets to agriculture by ensuring that agricultural education and research are adequately funded.
“On this particular calling, requires African Countries to sustain a GDP growth of at least 6% which Arunachalam and Umarani (2001) observe that the future of a country’s agriculture is dependent on research, public policy and the farming community’s cooperative action.
“Therefore, Malawi government is the chief actor in financing agriculture research which has proven to be working efficiently in other country by maximizing production. The evidence of that is still reflected through the infrastructure such as 16 research centres that were instituted around 1940 which had dismal funding of actual research work from the onset of 1980s till late 1990s.
“Although, Malawi has made modest gains in terms of flow of investments to agricultural research, flow of funding to agricultural research fluctuates as donors still play a big role in funding agricultural research though sometimes with own agendas.
Thus, universities are critical for training of researchers as there is need for ownership of research to avoid personalization of research findings since tailor-made research is the way out and also the need to balance estate and smallholder research in Malawi through agricultural research investment”, recommends Professor Kanyama Phiri.
Echoing on the same, Rex Chapota, CISANET Board Chairperson bemoaned low funding on public academic institution including Luanar saying such development has contributed to dwindling of agricultural system.
‘Public research universities are fundamental on promotion of science and technology for agriculture development but the country’s leadership we have had since 1994 haven’t shown much interest of investing handsomely to these institutions on research.
“This is the reasons we are calling government to adequately fund Luanar and other agriculture research institutions to propel science and technology for agricultural development which is a key to the country’s economic growth”, appeals Chapota.
The national research institutes are constituted under the acts of parliament and. run either under the Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS) or public universities including Bvumbwe (1940) to deal with tung nuts , Chitedze (1948) to service the arable crops and to a limited extent livestock while Makoka ( 1967) focus on the cotton producers and also four public universities namely; University of Malawi (UNIMA)-1965, Mzuzu University (MZUNI)- 1997, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) -2011 and Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST)-2012.