President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has urged university graduates to be in the forefront to provide solutions to a litany of challenges affecting the nation.
Chakwera highlighted food security, protection of the environment, combating diseases, containing locust invasions, providing sustainable agricultural initiatives, and climate change as some of the problems requiring solutions from fresh graduates to address.
He made the sentiments on Thursday when he presided over the graduation ceremony for the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).
Chakwera stressed that time had come for Malawians to “labour every day in unity to fulfil this desire of making Malawi a better”.
“I have no doubt that you have each been furnished with the requisite skills to thrive in your respective disciplines, as well as to make your contribution to the agricultural development and transformation of Malawi. I have no doubt that you have each received adequate mentorship from this institution, the kind that will give you an edge over your peers,” he said.
At this point, President Chakwera reaffirmed his administration’s commitment ensure a smooth and speedy completion of the construction of the Gateway Administration and the Teaching complex A that started in 2008 and were expected to finish in 2012.
He further stated that his government would expand the university libraries at Bunda and NRC campuses from the current inadequate sitting capacity of 5000 to 9000.
“I am delighted to inform you that a consultant has now been engaged to design and oversee the construction of a state-of-the-art Resource Centre and Lecture Theatres. The actual construction of the facilities which I have been made to believe will take 36 months will commence on 1st April 2024. This will help the University to implement its aspirations. The construction of a state-of-the-art Teaching and Learning facility at NRC campus commenced last year and it is my expectation it will be completed as scheduled,” said the President.
President Chakwera also announced that LUANAR would soon construct hostels at its NRC and Bunda Campuses to accommodate over a thousand students through the PSIP, which is over and above the PPP hostel project, which is still under negotiations.
He said the consultant is on the ground to design the hostels and “I have implored upon the Vice Chancellor to expedite the project and to ensure that the structures are postmodern and environmentally friendly”.
“Pillar number 1 of Malawi 2063 focuses on Agricultural productivity and commercialization. It stipulates that by 2063 we shall have an optimally productive and commercialized agricultural sector. You will all agree with me that this pillar cannot be achieved without LUANAR involvement. I am happy to note that LUANAR is a key player in the Mega Farm programme which I launched recently. “Under this initiative LUANAR is the knowledge hub providing technical services to all the participants under this programme. I am also happy that the Mega Teaching Farm at Bunda is performing well and that all the land is fully utilised to the extent that the University now seeks to procure additional land within the country for growth,” he said.
However, President Chakwera challenged LUANAR to move beyond its current focus towards more innovation and industrialization, stressing that this is critical to an agro-based higher education institution.