LUPANE State University’s (LSU) faculty of agricultural sciences has introduced a Master of Science in Crop Science degree (Msc. Crop Science) with specialisation options in agronomy or plant breeding.
LSU information and public relations officer Zwelithini Dlamini said the university targets to make its mark in research and development aimed at enhancing farmer productivity and food security in drought prone areas of the country.
Dlamini said the timeliness of the programme was due to the unprecedented challenges of climate change and variability as well as complementing government effort to train a critic. mass of scientists to address recurrent crop failures in the country.
“The programme has been pitched to address not only problems in Zimbabwe but the region at large. It aims at harnessing both agronomy and plant breeding at Msc level using local crops and facilities in the country,” Dlamini said.
He added: “It will permit. development of local capacity to train and undertake research. What is unique is that the focus is on identified regional constraints such as those identified by regional research organisations and national programmes thus ensuring its relevancy and strengthening of national agricultural research systems.”
Dlamini further noted that this new programme is designed to strengthen problem analysis and solving skills for graduate students that are needed in the dynamic crop science professions.
“Climate change and calls for environmentally friendly and sustainable production methods have added to the challenges in food Production. Accordingly, graduates from this programme will effectively and efficiently engage in science-led agricultural development” he said.
As part of the new programme, common courses will be taught for both options in the first semester of the first year while specialization courses for the agronomy and plant breeding options will be taught in the second semester of the first year.
Dlamini said research will be carried out in the second year of the programme.
“The programme rides on the university’s motto, ‘Building comunities through Knowledge.’ The Master of Science in Crop Science programme will not only strengthen the faculty’s research profile but promote agriculture in the semi-arid regions of Zimbabwe and the region at large.