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800 vacancies at Ministry of Agriculture

Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Principal Secretary (PS), Gray Nyandule Phiri, has bemoaned the higher vacancy rate of frontline extension staff, saying the development is negatively affecting service delivery.

Phiri made the remarks in Kasungu on Tuesday during the 15th graduation of Mwimba College of Agriculture.

He said that the ministry has 800 vacancies, which are said to be arising from various factors such as death, retirement and failure to recruit new members of staff.

The PS said Malawi cannot sustain the contribution the agriculture sector makes to the national economy amidst the rising vacancies.

“It is no secret that agriculture contributes more than any single sector to the Malawi economy. This contribution, however, cannot be sustained without knowledgeable and competent frontline staff working with our farmers,” Phiri said.

He added that it is only competent and well-trained frontline staff that can help farmers improve agricultural productivity by promoting good agricultural practices.

Phiri said well-trained frontline staff provides extension and training services to farmers on modern technologies and sustainable production of crops and production.

“I am aware that Mwimba College of Agriculture’s training is field-oriented and that the courses are designed in consultation with industry and the academia; hence, reflecting the basic requirements for frontline staff. To those graduating today, I urge you to go and demonstrate to your employers and communities that you can make a difference in the life of every farmer,” he said.

Agricultural Research and Extension Trust (Aret) Chief Executive Officer, Andy Khumbanyiwa, re-affirmed his institution’s commitment to becoming a centre of excellence in the provision of trained manpower for the tobacco industry as well as other agricultural enterprises in Malawi and beyond.

Khumbanyiwa said, over the years, the college has conducted many demand-driven short courses on various agricultural topics that appeal to trends on the market.

During the graduation, the college awarded a number of graduates who performed well in various courses.

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