Department of Agricultural Research and Technical Services (DARTS)

 
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Mission Statement & Mandate

Structure and Organisation

Technology development

Technology dissemination

Human Resources

Achievements/Major Outputs

Background

The Department of Agricultural Research and Technical Services (DARTS) is a technical department in the Malawi Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MAI) and is responsible for conducting research on problems and constraints that beset the country’s agricultural sector. The role of DARTS has become more important with the realization that Malawi’s growth in agricultural output is increasingly becoming dependent on the development of scientific and technical capacity to develop new mechanical, chemical, and biological technologies. This is because the expansion in agricultural land is no longer possible and farm inputs and implements have become increasingly expensive, hence inaccessible to many smallholder farmers.
 
 
DARTS is, therefore, poised to make a significant contribution to the productivity of Malawi’s most important sector, agriculture. Agriculture is basically the mainstay of the economy in Malawi. It contributes approximately 36% of the country’s GDP, employs more than 80% of the total labour force, and accounts for 90% of export earnings.

Agriculture research in Malawi can be traced back to the establishment of the four main research stations at Bvumbwe in 1940, principally as a research station for tung nuts; Chitedze in 1948, for research on arable crops such as tobacco, cereals and livestock; Makoka in 1967, as the main center for the Agricultural Research Council of Malawi (ARCM) and Lunyangwa in 1969, for research on arable crops, such as maize and groundnuts. When Malawi attained independence in 1964, the then Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) was a relatively small organization that was staffed mainly by expatriate scientists. Research was organized on a project basis, by crop, livestock or discipline. The scope of DAR was enhanced in 1975 when the responsibility for research on cotton, grain legumes and soil productivity was given to DAR following the dissolution of the ARC of Central Africa. In 1980, DAR relinquished its responsibility over tobacco research, and this task was taken over by the Malawi Tobacco Research Authority (MTRA), now called the Agricultural Research and Extension Trust (ARET). The DAR was restructured into the DARTS in 1993.

DARTS has evolved over the years to become a professional institution with about 70 highly qualified and skilled indigenous scientists; a network of 16 research stations, experimental stations and sub-stations; and an excellent research infrastructure and facilities that enable it to generate technologies that have impacted greatly on agricultural productivity in Malawi.

 

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The Director, DARTS, P.O. Box 30779, Lilongwe 3 - Malawi 
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