LUANAR hands over $3m CAT Centre Construction Site to boost agricultural transformation

Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), through a grant from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’s Agricultural Transformation Initiative (FSFW-ATI), has handed over a site for construction of the Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) Centre building to contractor SR Nicholas, raising hope for the transformation of agricultural sector in Malawi.

Construction of the CAT Centre Building, located 20 kms from Lilongwe City, is estimated to take 18 months and cost initial $3 million (MKW3 billion), while additional investment will go towards procurement of its equipment and furniture once it is completed.

Kasomekera–CAT Centre Building would add value to LUANAR

The CAT construction project’s four-hectare site is at LUANAR’s Natural Resources College (NRC) campus adjacent to the CAT Smart Farm which currently showcases multiple improved technologies to support the adoption of diversified agricultural practices and technologies and increase productivity.

Presenting the construction site to the contractor on Thursday 20th April 2023 at the University’s NRC campus, LUANAR Council Chairperson Prof Zachary Kasomekera urged the contractor to do a good job in ensuring that the centre does not wear off within the shortest period of time as is the case in other building constructions.

“We have known SR Nicholas as a contractor that does quality works. We have never heard you constructing a low quality building. I hope it will not start with this centre,” said Kasomekera, while describing the centre as a game changer which would drive agricultural transformation among smallholder farmers.

Nakhumwa–CAT Centre would bolster the capacity of various students, researchers, and academia to conduct research on soil analysis, among others

He said the CAT Centre Building would add value to LUANAR as it would enhance its research and outreach capacity through interaction with farmers who will be patronizing the building.

“Our students will also benefit from this initiative. Furthermore, this initiative will contribute to Pillar Number 1 of the Malawi 2063 (Agricultural Productivity and Commercialization) which will see farmers being equipped with knowledge and skills for improved agricultural productivity,” added Kasomekera.

On her part, Vice President and Country Director for the FSFW-ATI Dr. Candida Nakhumwa said the CAT Centre would bolster the capacity of various students, researchers, and academia to conduct research on soil analysis and other focus areas which would ultimately benefit the smallholder farmers in the quest for agricultural transformation in Malawi.

“The Centre for Agricultural Transformation supports the efforts of farmers and businesses to build long-term resilience by diversifying agricultural production and increasing their levels of productivity in Malawi,” said Nakhumwa.

“We look forward to more collaborations with Malawian businesses, scientists, and innovators whose ideas could be incorporated into helping advance the mission of the CAT,” she added.

Launched in 2019 and supported by a grant from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, the CAT is a science, technology, and business incubation project that promotes the charitable mission of supporting smallholder Malawian farmers in making economically viable, data-driven decisions for diversifying their incomes and ridding them of their dependence on tobacco farming.

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