Students of the newly established Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) have asked government to financially empower graduates to become self-employment as one way of reducing unemployment among the youth with is currently at 12.5 percent.
The students made the call at Luanar launch ceremony which was presided over by the state president and Chancellor of the university, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika at Luanar campus of Bunda in the Area of Traditional Authority Chadza in Lilongwe.
Speaking through their students’ union president Steven Mwale they asked government through President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika to establish microfinance loans for graduating students to ensure that they have enough capital to start agri-businesses.
Steven Mwale said although the institution was internationally recognized as a center of academic excellence basing on the high quality of its graduates, the graduates were not as productive as they would be due to financial limitations.
“Students of the two constituent colleges namely Natural Resource campus (NRC) and Bunda campus graduate with a lot of knowledge which they can use to improve agri-business which is the backbone of our country’s economy. However the only key obstacle is lack of finance,” said Mwale.
“These microfinance loans will go a long way to reduce unemployment among graduates as they will be self-employed. This will also improve agriculture productivity which will improve our economy,” said Mwale.
Professor George Kanyama Phiri, Vice Chancellor of Luanar in his speech since its operationalisation in 2012 said Luanar has developed academic programmes that are responsive to emerging local and global trends including Malawi Growth and Development Strategies (MGDS) and Millenium Development Goals with the aim of producing graduates that are sufficiently versatile to adjust to these changes.
“Luanar has also strengthened some of its agri-business academic programmes in order to produce graduates that possess entrepreneurial skills for self-employment as well as the ability to employ others,” said Kanyama Phiri.
Mutharika in his key note address said as someone who was Minister of Education when the bill to delink Bunda College of Agriculture from University of Malawi and establish it as Luanar was presented in parliament had keen interest in its success in transforming the agricultural sector which makes up a greater percent of economic activities.
“Luanar is the fuel for economic growth of this country,” said Mutharika.
Mutharika described Luanar as an innovation hub where Malawi as well as Africa which can transform the agriculture sector by taking the lead in addressing various challenges in the sector.
“You have a role to transform the nation from an importing to exporting nation… Make sure that your staff conduct research, get published and my government will support you,” Mutharika.
Bunda Campus was established in 1965 with the aim of advancing knowledge and producing relevant graduates with entrepreneurship skills while Natural Resources College was established in 1969 with the aim of providing technical assistance in the agriculture field. Luanar has a total of seven faculties and currently has an enrollment of about 3500 students in it under and post graduate courses.
Luanar was established through an Act of parliament Number 22 of 2011 and was operationalized in 2012.