22 Jun, 2018

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The students showcasing some of their projects during the symposium
Controller of Agriculture Extension Services, Dr Albert Changaya, has commended the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) for making strides in producing graduates with vast knowledge and skills in various agriculture disciplines and agricultural extension services. Dr Changaya made the remarks on Wednesday, the 20th of June 2018 at Natural Resources College (NRC) Campus of the university when he presided over the “Intake 29 Symposium” organised by NRC’s finales.

Final year students of intake number 29 at NRC on Wednesday organised a symposium to showcase what they have learnt and the skills they have acquired during their period of study at LUANAR from March 2016 to June 2018.

The Intake 29 Symposium was being held under the theme “Enhancing the productivity of rural livelihoods through entrepreneurship and sustainable use of natural resources,” and had various stakeholders in attendance.

Speaking at the event, Dr Changaya said the theme of the symposium was in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals whose underlining principle is to make the right choices now to improve life, in a sustainable way, for future generations. The key focus area in these goals is to tackle the root causes of poverty and unite us together to make a positive change for both people and planet; and also coherent to the vision of agricultural extension services in Malawi.

“The investment and contribution done by LUANAR-NRC has always remained unique in fostering the country’s development. NRC has remained relevant to the society over the past decades and is always considered as hub in the training a cadre of extension personnel that ably interface with the rural masses.”

“Your theme for this symposium is also fitting very well with the vision of agricultural extension in Malawi as articulated in the current policy upon which farmers should be able to demand and have access to high quality extension services provided by those who are best able to deliver them,” said Dr Changaya.

Dr Changaya said there is always a tendency among many institutions to place emphasis primarily on providing students with theoretical knowledge in the various agricultural disciplines but too little or no attention is paid to providing the types of courses that are important for preparing students as agricultural extension workers who can effectively communicate with diverse rural communities as well as support such groups in a process of collaborative problem-solving.

Addressing the students, the Agricultural Extension Services Controller hailed the administration of LUANAR for their commitment and enthusiasm in teaching the students.

“Let me in a special way thank the University administration and lecturers in particular who have tirelessly worked with you and have motivated you to reach this far. Your practical competences are what government is looking forward to particularly in championing the community development initiatives different approaches including the Farmer Field schools.” He said.

In his conclusion, Dr Changaya commended the administration of LUANAR for producing well-disciplined students who have demonstrated passion to take up the challenges in supporting the rural livelihood. He therefore encouraged the University to continue its commendable job in shaping Malawi to be a self-reliant country.

He also urged all stakeholders who were present at the event to sample-out students who can ably meet the needs of their organizations and offer them employment. “I urge you not to hesitate but inquire about their CVs so that you can take them on board.” He concluded.

In his remarks, Director of NRC Campus, Dr Moses Chinyama, assured the stakeholders that they will release graduates that will make a contribution to the nation. He said the students are all energetic and ready to deliver for the betterment of Malawi.

“We have a crop of students that are going out to make a contribution to the nation. They are all energetic young Malawians and ready to deliver for the betterment of Malawi. But they can only do so if you guide them, if you take them on board in your activities and if you also tap on the knowledge and skills that they have. As a campus we have done our part and we believe we will continue to do so in the near future should they decide to come back for degree programmes,” said Dr Chinyama.

Commenting on the theme, Dr Chinyama said the theme was a combination of very important terms such as productivity, livelihoods, entrepreneurship and sustainable use of natural resources. He said the theme was carefully formulated as Malawi needs to improve in all these aspects.

“Malawi needs to improve on issues of productivity. We also need to ensure that our rural masses have got livelihoods. We need to understand that we are not only trained to be employed. We have been trained to be entrepreneurs and the issue of sustainability of natural resources cannot be over emphasised.” He said.

The Natural Resources College Campus director therefore appealed to all young Malawians to take ownership of this country and management of natural resources should come first. He lamented on the increasing cases of charcoal production, most of which indigenous trees are being used.

During the event, the final year students presented what they have gone through and also exhibited some of their projects from their respective programmes. The students said they have been well drilled and are ready to serve the nation.

NRC campus has two departments namely Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural resources, and currently offers eight diploma programmes and one bachelor’s degree programme. The campus is expected to start offering a certificate programme in climate smart agriculture very soon.