Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe has challenged researchers and Malawians at large to make huge investments in agricultural food value chain systems amid fears of looming hunger caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.
The minister was speaking in Lilongwe during the 2022 Annual Dissemination Conference organised by Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar).
Lowe said the Ukraine crisis brings an opportunity for Malawi, as an agricultural country, to invest more in producing more food to feed other countries that face the threat of hunger.
He said: “It is unfortunate that our food systems are affected by the Ukraine crisis when actually we are an agricultural economy. We could take this opportunity to provide food to the world, that is the route we should take.
“We are harvesting but it seems it is only tobacco that is providing foreing exchange for the economy, but we have other cash crops that we can leverage on in establishing structured markets. Researchers should help us in coming up with strategies on structured markets to benefit the economy.”
Lowe challenged researchers to ensure that their research is farmer- centric to bring results on the ground than just filing the papers in their office shelves without making any difference on the ground.
Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi Steinar Egil Hagen said the rapid rise in food and commodity prices that has followed Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, illustrates the vulnerability of many countries, including Malawi, to global food price shocks.
He said: “We fully support ambitions to raise food crop production as outlined in the African Emergency Food Production Plan by the African Development Bank in collaboration with the African Union.
“We need to meet short-term needs, while also taking a longer-term perspective, ensuring climate resilient interventions.”
Luanar vice-chancellor Professor Emmanuel Kaunda called for collaboration among research institutions and implementing agencies in the agriculture sector in research dissemination and implementation.
He said they are pushing for community action research to take farmers through research on agricultural technologies from beginning to the end.
“In such a way, farmers will easily adopt the technologies than just conducting research in isolation and then dump it on farmers. This has proven ineffective”.
The conference held under the theme ‘Sustainable Agricultural Transformation for Significant Growth of the Agriculture Sector.
The conference attracted delegates from public and private sectors, academic institutions and development partners.