Kamkwamba to establish innovation centre as Nankhumwa tips on agriculture technology

The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa has urged primary, secondary and University students to embrace agriculture technology by bring in innovations that would help the agriculture industry to flourish.

William Kamkwamba: The boy who harnessed the wind wants to establish innovation centre
Agri-tech Challenge winner Kelvin Btawell from Nkhukwa primary school in Lilongwe
Minister Nankhumwa (2nd from right) poses with delegates at the summit

Speaking during the second annual Agricultural Transformation Summit on Thursday, 14 November at Bingu Conference Centre in Lilongwe Nankhumwa said considering that Malawi is agro-based country, enhancing production and productivity alone is not enough but there is a need to develop technologies that will facilitate value addition in the products that Malawi produces.

Nankhumwa said, for the Agriculture sector to fully get transformed, it requires all the stakeholders including the youth to embrace state of the art science and innovative technologies borrowing a leaf from ‘the boy who harnessed the wind’, William Kamkwamba.

“I’m honored to have the boy who harnessed the wind, William Kamkwamba amidst us, his creation of the windmill from spare parts and scrap in Kasungu guided only by the library book, tells the story of the innovative power in the bright children and students in our country.

“We hope that our youth will be encouraged to engage their creative minds to help create scientific solutions to challenges in the agriculture sector,” he said

He further said, his ministry is more than ready to work with the Agriculture Transformation Initiatives (ATI) and other stakeholders to bring possible solutions to problems facing the agriculture sector in Malawi.

“Let me assure you that my ministry is ready to provide the necessary leadership and create an enabling environment that provides incentive to attract interested students, encourage innovation, and encourage strong private sector investments in agriculture.”

However, inventor William Kamkwamba, who was also the keynote speaker during the summit, said he is optimistic that Malawian youth have potential to make a difference in the agriculture sector through various innovations only when they are properly mentored.

Currently, Kamkwamba said he is focusing on establishing an innovation center in Kasungu district where professionals will be mentoring young stars and equipping them with various skills on how to deal will various challenges that farmers are facing in their communities.

“Talent is universal but opportunities are scarce, so I have observed that many young people are lacking opportunities to translate their innovative ideas into practical, this is exactly what I want to address when the innovation center is established because there will be mentorship programs,” said ‘The boy who harnessed the wind’.

During the summit different young people from different schools showcased their various innovations aimed at addressing challenges faced by Malawian groundnut farmers in the country.

Dubbed the Agricultural Technical (AgTech) Challenge, the competition saw a 13 year old, Kelvin Batwell from Nkhukwa primary school in Lilongwe emerging the winner for making an outstanding innovation that has the highest chance of commercialization and he got home with a whooping K300, 000 prize.

According to ATI Country Director Dr. Candida Nankhumwa, The Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) is preparing for a future of reduced tobacco demand by working with smallholder tobacco farmers to facilitate the development of complementary structured value chains with the goal of making Malawi’s agriculture sector globally competitive.

This year’s Agriculture Summit brought together various players in the agriculture sector to discuss opportunities for economic diversification in Malawi and it was under the theme ‘The Role of Inclusive Science, Technology, and Innovation in Driving Agricultural Transformation;” participants exchanged ideas that could help smallholder tobacco farmers transition to alternative livelihoods.

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