LUANAR students get $13,000 research grant – Capital Radio Malawi
19 June, 2024

LUANAR students get $13,000 research grant

MacLeod Nkhoma CAT Executive Director

Six undergraduate students from the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources-LUANAR are expected to carry out a research aimed to find solutions to challenges facing smallholder farmers and other agribusinesses.

The Research on Demand (ROD) will be supported by the Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) to the tune of a $13,500 which is equivalent to K14.5 million from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World through Agricultural Transformation Initiative.

The grantees, 4 male and 2 female students drawn from LUANAR’s Bunda College campus, were selected through a competitive and rigorous process by the University and CAT.

In a statement, CAT explains that the grant will cover one year of research activities to enable the students undertake specific tailor-designed research areas such as investigating the agronomic uniformity and genetic stability of CG11 groundnut variety.

Other activities include developing tissue culture protocols for rapid propagation of Sukari and Zeru local varieties of banana, evaluate and identify effective integrated pest management approaches for Soybean and assess effect of sunken beds on yield of rain-fed and irrigated garlic.

It will also help to study the field establishment and agronomic performance of chia seeds, and evaluate the potential of used mushroom substrate as an organic fertilizer.

“We are delighted to work with LUANAR towards supporting undergraduate research needs that have an impact on smallholder agricultural production, as well as those that can provide solutions to production bottlenecks our agribusiness partners face as they support farmers through various alternative value chains,” explained CAT Executive Director MacLeod Nkhoma in a statement.

Nkhoma adds “These production challenges were identified late last year through CAT’s visit to its Business Incubation and Commercialization (BIC) partners who are upscaling various technologies and innovations to support smallholder farmers’ adoption across the country.”

Deputy Vice Chancellor of LUANAR Agnes Mwangwela has described project as a great initiative which will go a long way in building and strengthening undergraduate students’ capacity to conduct scientific research.

“The University deeply cherishes a practical partnership with the CAT that is cascading down to our students. Following this initial grant, we look forward to an expanded program that would accommodate more students and staff to conduct demand-driven and cutting edge research for the agriculture industry,” says Mwangwela.

The research activities will be conducted at the CAT’s Smart Farms located within the confines of LUANAR’s Bunda and NRC Campuses, with regular visits to selected agribusinesses in Lilongwe based on individual production challenges they face while working with smallholder farmers.

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