In its drive to offer market relevant programmes, the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) will soon introduce a new undergraduate degree programme in Agricultural Innovations.
The Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Innovations will focus on producing multi-skilled graduates who will guide innovations and multi-actor partnerships to improve rural livelihoods in the country as well as the region.
In an interview recently, the Coordinator of the programme to be housed in the Agriculture Education and Development Communication department, James Sitima said “Malawi is an agricultural economy with the majority of its population deriving their income from farming. Agricultural development is therefore intricately linked to overall economic development of the country. This necessitates the need for fresh thinking that creates value in the agriculture sector in the country.”
The value could be in the following areas yield-increasing, cost reducing, quality-enhancing, risk-reducing, environmental-protection increasing, and shelf-life enhancing he said adding research shows that though the government programmes for addressing poverty are designed to be multi-sectoral, integrated and participatory, it is noted that graduates posted at that level are not trained to dealing with complexity, uncertainty, conflicting norms, values and interests in globalizing the world.
The Agricultural Innovations degree is geared to address this concern by producing graduates with new set of competences but also reorientation of mind sets by all actors including members of the farming community.
Head of the Agriculture Education and Development Communication(AEDC) Department, Dr. Felix Maulidi said the programme which will integrate social and technical disciplines related to agricultural and rural development will enable graduates to champion development in the agrarian societies.
Dr. Maulidi said the world is changing; there is need, therefore, for universities to start producing graduates who will be able to respond to the changing world in a creative way.
“The graduates will also be capable of mobilizing and organizing their own employment as private entrepreneurs, able to fit and compete effectively in the private sector and various jobs in the agriculture sector as agricultural advisors, facilitators, trainers and managers,” he added.
He added that innovation addresses national problems by creating breakthrough outputs in the form of new process and products that have measurable impact on human systems saying these require certain knowledge, skills and attitudes which graduates from this programme will possess.
“Innovation students shall be provided with agricultural understanding of their discipline and context to which innovations will be applied,” he said.
The programme will have its first students in June 2016 through Open and Distance Learning which has just been introduced at LUANAR.