Minister NyaLonje says science and technology key to MW2063 attainment

The Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje says the government considers the development and application of research, science, technology and innovation in agricultural biotechnology as key in the attainment of Malawi 2063.

NyaLonje made the remarks at the launch of the Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology in Malawi (OFAB Malawi).

The National Commission for Science and Technology organized the launch of OFAB Malawi Chapter in partnership with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and OFAB Secretariat in Kenya.

NyaLonje (left) and other delegates clapping hands after officially launching OFAB Malawi Chapter–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

The event was held under the theme: “Agricultural Biotechnology: an underutilized tool for creation of inclusive wealthy and self-reliant Malawi.”

NyaLonje said the Ministry of Education is committed to implementing programmes that aim at building a science and technology environment at all levels of society as anticipated in Malawi 2063.

She said this is the reason the ministry, through NCST, undertakes a number of initiatives that aim at promoting research, science, technology and innovation and agricultural biotechnology in particular, as evidenced by the introduction of Biotechnology programmes at undergraduate and post graduate levels at our Public Universities to build capacity and create a pool of Biotechnology experts in Malawi.

“Agricultural biotechnology will provide solutions to the emerging challenges such as production of pest resistant, disease resistant and drought resistant crops. If the challenges are addressed as indicated, crop yields would increase tremendously and address food security issues and create more employment,” said the minister.

NCST Board Chairperson Professor Emmanuel Kaunda observed that although the agriculture sector is the mainstay of the economy in Malawi, it continues facing challenges.

Kaunda said Malawi, like many countries in Africa, plans to eradicate poverty, hunger and disease as it focuses on fulfilling Malawi 2063, yet efforts of the government to meet these developmental goals have been further challenged by limited land availability, declining soil fertility, inferior varieties of seeds and high incidences of pests and diseases and, unpredictable weather patterns.

“Many people agree that solutions to these challenges can be addressed with use of multiple approaches that integrate the best of the conventional methods as well as other relevant technologies, one of which is modern biotechnology. Malawi has made significant strides to adopt modern biotechnology. It has put in place the necessary legal and policy instruments to guide development and use of modern biotechnology,” he said.

But Kaunda stated that biotechnology is still new to many people and not well understood; hence, the need for scientists to find better ways of raising awareness about it.

“To you scientist, researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders urge you to take full advantage of this platform to share your scientific knowledge, clear out misconceptions and identify critical recommendations that can constructively inform policy formulation, intervention and practices that if applied could spur economic growth.

“We do not want discussion after discussion without tangible results when there are a myriad of challenges that are affecting the livelihood of farmers. We live in a competitive world, which will not wait for us to conduct our endless discussion,” he said.

AATF Executive Director Dr. Canisius Kanangire commended the Malawi Government for taking progressive steps to promote the use of biotechnology to achieve enhanced agricultural production.

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