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‘Invest in research, not farm subsidies’

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The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) says Malawi must re-allocate resources from the farm input subsidy programme to science and technology research and development.

Speaking on Wednesday in Blantyre at the opening of a two-day National Science and Technology Fair, MCCCI president Newton Kambala Malawi’s said Malawi’s economy depends on how the country will use science and technology for its development.

He said Malawi cannot develop by simply investing in agriculture and cited the huge resources allocated to the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) as one of the misplaced investments by the country.

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“It is sadly not conceivable to engage on a sustainable path of development without producing and exporting products with high science and technology content,” said Kambala.

He said because of the importance of science and technology to economic developmen t, Malawi needs to give science and technology the necessary attention.

Kambala noted that the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals would only be possible if the government develops strategies that recognise the role of science and technology.

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“Look at countries that are newly industries – Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and even China. Their economies are all characterised by exports of science and technology based products, not agriculture raw materials or minerals,” he said.

“The supporting environment for science and technology based industralised remains weak. Infrastructure and appropriate human resource capacity are not available,” he observed.

He implored upon government to seriously consider investing in science and technology based education, research institutions, and providing necessary incentives to make it attractive to invest in such areas.

“We used to have Malawi Industrial Research and Technology Development Centre (MIRTDC) the idea of which was brilliant but implementation was extremely poor,” he said.

He said instead of going back to basics and ensuring that MIRTDC succeeds, it has now been merged with Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) and that it is not heard about anymore.

“All seems to be lost with its absorption,” said Kambala.

The fair attracted 10 companies working in the area of science and technology.

The opening of the fair was not without drama as there were no top officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

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