LUANAR Launches Geo-Nutrition Research Project , 2018
In Malawi, more than a third of children are stunted, in part due to deficiencies of zinc and other mineral nutrients in the diet. A lack of mineral nutrients, including zinc and selenium, in the diet also increases the risk of infectious diseases. It is against this background that the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), in collaboration with Addis Ababa University (AAU), and UK research institutes and universities, has embarked on a major research project in Geo-Nutrition.
The project, which is being funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), aims at providing new evidence to support policy makers from the agriculture and public health sectors address micronutrient deficiencies in Malawi and the wider region.
In his remarks at the launch of the Geo-Nutrition research project which took place at Ufulu gardens in Lilongwe on Tuesday 23rd January 2018, LUANAR Vice Chancellor, Professor George Kanyama-Phiri, said this will be a productive study since it will provide policy direction to reduce dietary micronutrients deficiencies. He therefore hailed the multidisciplinary team of scientists that are taking part in this research project.
The LUANAR vice chancellor went further to express gratification that a reasonable number of LUANAR staff is playing active role in this project.
“By the fact that LUANAR is playing a very important role in this project, it pleases me as a Vice Chancellor,” he said.
Speaking to members of the press after the official launch, Prof. Kanyama-Phiri said the project is very important because the micronutrients that are being studied (zinc, iron and selenium) are very important to our healthy. The Vice Chancellor said Malawi, being an agricultural country, values everything that is found in the soil, both macro and micro nutrients.
On the other hand, Director of Nutrition for the Malawi government, Felix Pensulo Phiri, said this research is very crucial for the country as cases of micronutrient deficiencies are high in Malawi.
“What we are promoting as government is to ensure that we are able to generate evidence based information locally that’s why having this research done in this country is very critical because whatever outcomes from this project will be based on local context.” He said.
During the launch, Martin Broadley, Professor of Plant Nutrition in the University of Nottingham, School of Biosciences, UK, made a presentation on what the research is all about and how they will go about it. The project is worth a total of almost $6 million dollars.
In addition to this exciting new research project, LUANAR and the University of Nottingham have currently agreed to support a joint training programme to strengthen research capacity in agricultural and nutritional sciences through the award of joint PhDs.