UNIVERSITIES and tertiary institutions must be engines of the country’s agriculture and other economic sectors through conducting research and innovation, which should be anchored on knowledge and technology to drive away poverty from people, President Mnangagwa has said.
He said universities should be at the forefront in providing technology-driven agricultural and related solutions.
The President said this yesterday after his installation as the inaugural Chancellor of Marondera University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (MUAST) where he eventually capped 73 students during the institution’s maiden graduation ceremony.
He also installed Professor Justice Nyamangara as the university’s inaugural Vice Chancellor.
In his acceptance speech as Chancellor, the President said local tertiary institutions like universities must be global centres of excellence through sustained high organisational performance culture that motivates the country’s talented young boys and girls to innovate, research and publish ground-breaking scholarly work.
“It is a fact that agriculture assisted by knowledge and technology has unmatched potential to lift many of our people out of poverty into prosperity. In light of this, Government took a conscious decision to ensure that the university’s nomenclature is purely agricultural in nature.
“Cognisant of this, as well as the university’s mandate of specialisation in agricultural Sciences and Technology, the leadership must ensure that the university develops to become a centre of excellence for agricultural innovation and technology development,” he said.
President Mnangagwa commended the university for contributing more than 350 tonnes of wheat to the bumper harvest recorded this year.
“This highlights that with sufficient teaching and learning infrastructure, our institutions of higher learning can provide our young talented boys and girls an environment in which they can thrive and produce goods and services, in line with the tenets of the Education 5.0 philosophy,” said President Mnangagwa.
The university should capitalise on large tracts of land it has to carry out experiments, embark on pilot studies for the development of seed varieties, animal breeds and genetics, among other agricultural methods that respond to current issues, said President Mnangagwa.
Occupying the crop and plant breeding space, among other facets of the agricultural field of study, said the President, must be the university and its graduates’ critical areas of focus and claim to fame.
He challenged the university to position itself as well as strengthening the province’s niche in the horticulture sub sector’ value chain in the context of the institution’s location in Mashonaland East province where horticulture is booming.
Relatedly, President Mnangagwa challenged MUAST to design and produce appropriate agricultural machinery, implements and associated technologies, which are best suited to local environments, user friendly and easily adopted by communities for increased production, productivity and profitability.
Through research, innovation and community service, universities could be relevant to the ongoing development discourse in its communities, region and country, said the President.
“It is my expectation that as Marondera University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology grows, we will begin to see more and more of its talented young boys and girls developing innovations that address the needs of society.
“This should result in more patents and trademarks being registered,” he said.
Earlier on, President Mnangagwa laid a foundation stone for the teaching complex and the central analytical services laboratory.
The two complexes will enable students at Marondera University to conduct their studies in a more conducive and modern learning environment.
“In addition, the central analytical service laboratory, will offer services to farmers and other environmental and mining organisations across the country and beyond.
“This is in line with my Government’s call for our universities to be instrumental in the provision of solutions to all sectors of the economy,” said President Mnangagwa.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister, Professor Amon Murwira, said for a country to develop, there was need to have people with a long-lasting and sustainable approach to life rather than those with short-term and self-serving views.
“There is a short game approach to life where one says ‘what is in it for me, or as long as I have benefitted it is ok. There is also a long game approach which looks at what is the best for us and our country,” said Prof Murwira.
President Mnangagwa’s leadership, said Prof Murwira, dovetails with a long game approach which looks at how the future generation will benefit.
“That is the game of a dignified Zimbabwean; that we shall leave this country better than what we found it. That should be the spirit,” he said.
Prof Nyamangara chronicled how the university started and was nurtured by the University of Zimbabwe before operating independently from 2017.
He said the UZ and Marondera University agreed to jointly hold graduation ceremonies between 2020 and 2021.
“We appeal for the relocation of the settlers who were issued with temporary offer letters to settle on the university (land) before construction commenced so that construction of the university can take place according to the approved master plan and without disturbances,” said Prof Nyamangara.
He said the university had teamed up with the Food and Agriculture Organisation to train youths from Marondera in poultry and honey production.
They have also been trained in soft skills that will help them prepare bankable projects so that they become self-sufficient instead of looking for employment.
Students graduated with Master of Science in Agricultural Economics, Master of Science Crop Protection, Bachelor of Science Honours in Agribusiness, and Bachelor of Science in Animal Science, Bachelor of Science in Horticulture degrees, among others.
The event was attended by Defence and War Veteran Minister Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Mashonaland East Aplonia Munzverengwi, legislators and senior Government officials.
Article Source: The Chronicle