If the science of employing biological systems or living organisms to develop or modify agricultural products, such as genetically modified crops, is taken seriously, scientists in the agriculture sector claim Malawi can easily accomplish its food security dreams.
This is according to scientist Lyson Kampira, the NCST’s Chief Research Officer, who was speaking on Friday in Blantyre following a daylong orientation session with journalists.
If the research is taken seriously, according to Kampira, it may be possible to observe some increases in agricultural output at the family level, which, in turn, may help the nation’s expectations for food security be realized.
He further indicated that the biotechnology can also contribute towards the attainment of some objectives of the Malawi vision 2063, saying it provides breakthrough products and technologies to combat debilitating and rare diseases.
In addition, the Chief Research Officer said this science reduces environmental footprint, feed the hungry, use less and cleaner energy, and has safer, cleaner and more efficient industrial manufacturing processes.
“Biotechnology is one of the technologies that can be used to improve food security as well as improve income at the household level especially for the rural poor. So through biotechnology it means agricultural productivity will improve at local level and also people at national level can also have their life styles improved with time and this is in line with the vision 2063,” said Kampira.
Kampira further explained that reaching this far, the country has commercialized one genetically modified crop, cotton which has been named Bt cotton and is said to have already improved farmers’ yield by 100 percent.
The scientist expressed hope that very soon the country will have several other genetically modified crops commercialized, claiming as of now, cowpea (khobwe), bananas and maize which are said to be of high resistance in there performance to diseases, are currently under trial.
“So far there is one crop which has been commercialized which we are calling Bt cotton but some crops like cowpea and banana are under trial. Currently, discussions are underway where we are looking at maize that can be drought resistant and that can also protect itself from stalkboller. So we should be expecting that in the next year or so, otherwise applications were already made but the regulators needs to review the application and make a decision,” added Kampira.
Meanwhile, NCST through Open Forum on Agriculture Biotechnology (OFAB) Malawi Chapter, which is a project under African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), has introduced OFAB Media Awards (OMAs).
The OFAB Media Awards are aimed at recognizing exemplary journalism that exhibits best practices in credible science reporting that is crucial to better public understanding and acceptance of sciences, technologies and innovations that are needed to transform African agriculture for food security, sustainable development and poverty eradication.
Malawian journalists who have been reporting on agricultural biotechnology, are encouraged to submit their articles been published within the past 1 year to the date of submission, 10th October, 2022.
Winners from four categories which include; Print and Online (Newspapers, Magazine and Online), Radio (Audio or podcast) and Television will go away with a Trophy and prize money of $750 while their runner-up will go away with a Trophy and prize money of $450.
NCST was establish by the Science and Technology Act No.16 of 2003 as an umbrella body responsible for promoting, supporting, coordinating and regulating the development and application of research, science, technology and innovation in Malawi.