Malawi Government says it will table a bill in Parliament that seeks to formally detach the Agricultural Research Extension Trust (Aret) and Chitedze Research Station from the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar).
The two institutions were among four institutions which, alongside Bunda College of Agriculture and Natural Resources College (NRC), were to form the new university in the capital city.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology Eunice Kazembe said in an interview on Tuesday government has detached Aret since it is a tobacco research institution run under the public private partnership (PPP) between government and the Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama).
She observed that transforming it into a learning institution is likely to affect its core operations.
Kazembe further said Chitedze is also involved in specific research for the Ministry of Agriculture, something that makes it problematic to be a learning institution.
However, the minister was quick to point out that the detachment of the two institutions would not in any way derail the establishment of Luanar.
“Bunda alone qualifies even as a stand-alone university. We can also create other departments within Bunda, so this would not affect the university,” she said.
Since the establishment of the university, tobacco producers have been demanding a detachment of Aret from Luanar, arguing that the institution is a private entity.
Although established by Tama, in conjunction with government under the PPP, the institution gets funding from farmers’ levies through their membership fees to Tama.
Luanar was established through an Act of Parliament in 2011 after detaching Bunda College from the University of Malawi (Unima) and the incorporation of the four institutions.