NyaLonje challenges scientists as Malawi joins OFAB family

Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Agnes NyaLonje, has challenged scientists in the country to close the existing gap between soil science and seed science to enable farmers in the country to enjoy new innovations in agriculture.

NyaLonje made the call on Friday in Lilongwe when she represented the President, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, at the official launch of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Malawi chapter.

The minister noted that whereas the country has a lot of experts in seed science and other related areas, there is a gap of expertise in soil science to understand what soil can favor what seed innovation – a development she described as counterproductive to agriculture.

She also observed a communication gap between the scientist and the farmer as the former uses terms that the latter does not comprehend.

“Unless we take an active interest in soil science; and unless we close the gap between seed science and soil science in the lab and take the information to the farmer in the village, we will achieve nothing,” said NyaLonje.

The minister urged the scientists to understand the farmer, the Malawian for whom the science is made, and that the scientists should also be mindful of how best to communicate the science to the farmer.

NyaLonje said that to facilitate the farmer’s grasping of new technologies, her ministry will review the education curriculum to include the teaching of science at early stages, and the use of visual labs, among others.

The minister pledged continued support to the government through her ministry and she appealed to the 1 Science and Technology Commission (NSTC) to build strong leadership that should bring all stakeholders together.

Agnes Nyalonje
NyaLonje: my ministry will review the education curriculum

“We in the education sector commit to producing the kind of scientists that the agriculture sector wants,” said NyaLonje, adding that collaboration of the involved stakeholders, including the farmer, will be of paramount use to understanding and promoting the science.

NSTC Board Chair, Prof. Emanuel Kaunda noted, too that scientists “are not good communicators” and that the establishment of OFAB Malawi chapter will close the information gap around agricultural biotechnology.

“OFAB Malawi chapter will bring together stakeholders in biotechnology and it will enhance the understanding of the technology and enable interactions between scientists, journalists, civil society, lawmakers, and policymakers on all aspects of biotechnology,” he said.

Director for the Department of Agricultural Research Services, Dr. Wilkson Makumba, described the official launch of OFAB Malawi chapter as timely as the country pursues the Malawi 2063 Agenda, which recognizes Agriculture as one of the priorities in achieving the set Agenda.

Makumba, who represented the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Lobin Lowe, added that the coming of OFAB Malawi chapter “will facilitate awareness creation and information sharing to demystify all myths surrounding the advancement of this technology” for the benefit of the country.

OFAB is a multi1 project under the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and is being implemented in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia.

Malawi becomes the latest entrant after Rwanda, Mozambique.