MWICA students embrace crop diversification and mechanisation

Diploma in Agriculture students at Mwimba College of Agriculture (MWICA) say as agricultural production is becoming very low due to various challenges, it is important to adopt crop diversification and mechanisation.

The students made the call Friday at the college’s campus in Kasungu during the first ever symposium in the history of MWICA since it was opened in 1999.

President of the students’ union, Thokozani Matchona said that as students they realise that Malawi’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, however production remains low at small holder farm level and there is need for some innovations.

“Agricultural production at smallholder farm level is very low due to climate change effects and lack of extension services on new farming technologies.

“It is high time smallholder farmers started using new technologies in farming like improved seeds, climate smart agriculture, use of agricultural machineries and also crop diversification if the country is to be food secure,” said Matchona.

Matchona added that for them as students based on various knowledge and skills that they have acquired at the school, they strongly believe that they are competent and capable of bringing change in agriculture sector and contribute positively to the economy of this country.

At the moment Agricultural Research and Extension Trust (ARET) which runs the college is trying to also move into other crops apart from tobacco and one area it has considered is oil seed crops.

ARET’s Financial and Administration Manager Jonathan Mwakiyeru said that ARET is making sure that the students at the college also embrace this new direction.

“Our curriculum now includes an area of oil seed crops as a subject and also it has an engineering component. So the issue of diversifying to oil seed crops and also the issue of farm mechanisation is taken care of,” said Mwakiyeru.

Mwakiyeru also urged the students to be more practical as the employers will look at hands on experience than theory.

David Luka representing one of the prospective employers Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) and holding a post of Deputy Chief Executive Officer advised the students not only to expect to be employed but should be able to think about entrepreneurship when they graduate.

Since its establishment in 1999, MWICA has awarded 600 certificates and 500 diplomas.

The theme for the symposium was “Crop diversification and mechanisation: Key to productivity”.

Source: Malawi News Agency