By Sarah Munthali
Lilongwe, March 31 MANA: Secretary to the Treasury in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Planning Macdonald Mafuta Mwale says government is committed to financing research, science, technology and innovation sector to enhance socio economic development in the country.
He made the remarks in Lilongwe on Friday on the sidelines of a project launch on facilitating transfer of appropriate technology in Malawi for community development through universities and research institutions.
The project is being led by the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) funded by a joint venture of the National Commission for Science and Technology and the World Intellectual Protection Organisation (WIPOs) and being piloted with the production of bio-fertiliser in Mkwinda village in Lilongwe.
“The project whose target is to facilitate research development and commercialisation of bio fertiliser technology based on technical information found in patent documents. This intervention is extremely timely and relevant to Malawi.
“As we may all be aware, Malawi is a predominantly an agro based economy where agriculture contributes more than 25 percent to Malawi GDP. However in recent years inflationary pressures on the economy and inadequate generation of forex have both led to unavailability of affordable fertiliser for crop production,” said Mwale
He further said the country has also experienced effects of climate change such as cyclones which has expounded the country’s food security vulnerabilities.
“Time has come for Malawi to change our mindset, quit looking down on ourselves, notice the numerous opportunities before us and innovate. This is an opportunity for the research community to rise up to the occasion and provide home grown solutions that the country desperately needs.
“The project has therefore come at the right time and promises to be a worthwhile investment of government resources allocated to the science and technology fund being administered by NCST,” he noted
The secretary to the treasury said Government started injecting into the science and technology fund in 2021 with a sum of K291 million.
He said this financial year government has allocated K450 million, saying the fund was set up in the science and technology Act of 2003 for the advancement of science and technology towards socio economic development of the country.
“As Treasury, we take note of the outcry to increase the allocation to the science and technology fund for justifiable reasons; we therefore assure you that we will seriously consider that request. I am in consultation with more donors for support in this area and my hope is that more will help is in this agenda,” mwale added.
Acting director for NCST Gift Kadzamira said the project will also be working with other public universities to solve society challenges identified through the project.
“In Mkwinda village, communities identified lack of fertilizers a‘challenge’in their community, hence through this project public universities will be working with NCST and the community to produce local fertilizer, to help the communities improve food security,” she said.
She said the fertiliser will be produced using information researched by WIPO, patent in the data base and it will be piloted in Mkwinda and thereafter replicated in other areas.
A farmer from Mkwinda, Colleta Banda said people in her area were affected this farming season because they failed to access fertilizer which has led to food insecurity.
“As a community that depend on farming we have already started preparing our dimba gardens in readiness for the fertilizer which will be produced through the project,” she said
NCST signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the WIPO to work on a Government committed to fund technology and innovation sectorproject that identified some public universities to work on an appropriate technology that will assist in solving some of our societal challenges.