Experts, farmers smile at construction of CAT facility

The Malawi Agriculture sector is expected to receive an extensive boost once the Center for Agricultural Transformation facility to be constructed at the Natural Resources College in Lilongwe is completed.

Professor Zachary Kasomekera Chair of the Council for Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) made the assertion following the handover of the site where the facility will be constructed.

Prof. Kasomekera said the facility will help to transition the sector from an archaic system of production to a more modern approach.

He said that due to the way in which agriculture is done in the country there are a lot of challenges it faces such as pest infestations and blanket recommendations for the whole country and yet Malawi has different agro-climatic zones.

He, however, said that with the center, more work and research will go into specific areas of agricultural production hence boosting agricultural production and aiding in accomplishing Malawi Vision 2063.

“With this Center for Agricultural Transformation, it means research will be done in consideration of specific agro-climactic zones and indeed specific soils and also specific norms of the people in the rural areas,” said Professor Kasomekera.

He also urged SR Nicholas Building Contracting to ensure there us a good workmanship so that they deliver a project which can stand the test of time.

In her remarks, Dr. Candida Nakhumwa, Vice president for the Foundation for a Smoke Free World, a financier of the project dubbed “Centre for Agricultural Transformation” being implemented by Land ‘O’ Lakes, said that the magnificent facility will help in addressing agriculture diversity and farmers with hands on experience on how best improve productivity and commercialization.

Dr. Nakhumwa said: “Within the activities we support in Malawi, we support agriculture diversification which involves identification of alternatives to tobacco and then after identifying those alternatives supporting enhanced productivity, because what we have seen is that farmers are producing at less than 40 percent of the potential that these commodities have got.

So through this intervention that we are implementing with the CAT we would like farmers to have access to improved technologies and they need to learn to do things differently.”

Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) Executive Director, Jacob Nyirongo hailed the initiative saying once the construction is complete, the agricultural sector will see a major boost in production as farmers will be able to acquire various expertise.

“This development is very important for us as farmers because for us this is place is like one stop centre where farmers, students, the private sector and researchers will be interacting and share ideas on how to do sustainable agriculture so that farmers are able to benefit from their labour and investment in farming.”

He said the CAT facility will serve as a hub for science, technology, and innovation, where promising agricultural technologies can be demonstrated to smallholder farmers, entities with inclusive business models and the community at large can experiment, use data, exchange ideas, develop business plans, and create partnerships to advance new livelihood opportunities for smallholder farmers.

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