Agricultural Diversification - Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

Agricultural Diversification

This page was last edited on: September 12, 2022 at 1:05 pm



The global decline of smoking could have many positive health impacts but could bring negative economic consequences to tobacco farmers, many of whom are in developing nations. To address the potential negative agricultural impact of smoking cessation, the Foundation is focused on partnering with agricultural, rural development, and smallholder representatives and individuals to identify alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers.

The Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI), a subsidiary of the Foundation, is spearheading projects and cultivating partnerships in Malawi where tobacco accounts for more than 60% of the country’s total annual earnings and 13% of the economy as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP). The ATI aims to help diversify Malawi’s tobacco-dependent economy, ensuring that smallholder farmers impacted by the declining demand for tobacco are supported to find sustainable alternative livelihoods.

Fields of ground nut and corn in Malawi



MwAPATA Institute Newsletter

Quarterly Newsletter MwAPATA continues to inform and guide national policy issues related to agriculture, natural resources and rural transformation by generating evidence and undertaking policy

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Partner Programs

The Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT)

The Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) is an inclusive science, technology, innovation, and business incubation center of excellence whose goal is to transform Malawian agricultural systems through development of new technologies and value chains, partnerships, and income opportunities that support smallholder farmer livelihoods and ease reliance on the tobacco sector.


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The MwAPATA Institute

The MwAPATA Institute is an independent policy think tank in agricultural, natural resources and rural development policy research, providing concrete policy guidance and implementation support for agricultural transformation, and development in Malawi.


A woman in a lab coat in a laboratory filling up a bottle.

The Institute of International Education


Agricultural Transformation Initiative Fellowship and Scholarship Fund

The Institute of International Education’s administered Agricultural Transformation Initiative Fellowship and Scholarship Fund aims at strengthening the capacity of researchers and professionals in Malawi in high priority fields including business, data science, environment, economics, and engineering that will help the country transform its agricultural sector by reducing dependence on tobacco exports.


Horticulture value chain transformation project

Horticulture value chain transformation project is supporting the establishment of a greenhouse manufacturing plant, model farm, and processing plant to support the transformation of the horticulture value chain in Malawi. Among others, the program will build farmers capacity in greenhouse production and facilitate linkages to markets for their produce.

Investment Support Facility Program

The Investment Support Facility Program is designed to facilitate identification and packaging of inclusive international investor-grade commercially oriented and commercially viable transactions which will positively impact smallholder farmers, micro and small and medium enterprises in Malawi.

Strategic Impact Advisors

Strategic Impact Advisors partnered with Telekom Networks in Malawi to deliver Digital Financial Services (DFS) rural stimulation campaign aimed at increasing the understanding, usage, and availability of DFS, strengthening rural financial inclusion and improve digital literacy and financial services as part of the effort to prepare smallholder farmers in Malawi for a time when there is less demand for leaf tobacco.


How Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Will Affect the Food Security Situation in Malawi: Implications for Malawian Policy Response

March 31, 2022

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is very likely to have an impact on Malawi that could be detrimental, but steps can be taken now to soften the effects. Fuel, food, and fertilizer prices can all be expected to continue rising dramatically in the coming months. These effects threaten Malawian livelihoods and the feasibility of major government policies, such as the Agricultural Inputs Program. However, the situation also presents opportunities to pivot policies towards promoting crop diversification. While swift action may be rewarding, delays could result in substantial economic harm.

A Rapid Assessment of the Implementation of the 2020/21 Affordable Inputs Program in Malawi

Zephania Nyirenda, Farai Chigaru, Christone Nyondo, Makaiko Khonje, Ayala Wineman & Milu Muyanga

June 1, 2021

The 2020/21 AIP reached 4 times as many farmers as did FISP in 2019/20 and used innovative delivery mechanisms. However, numerous major challenges led to delays in availability and other problems. Using data collected in December 2020, we take a critical look at the AIP and offer a path to improvements


Assessing Alternatives to Tobacco Farming for Smallholders in Malawi

Mrunal Shah, Jacob Ricker-Gilbert , Makaiko Khonje

May 31, 2021

We assess the profitability of Malawian tobacco and potential alternatives. Over the past 10 years the share of smallholders growing tobacco has declined from 16% to just 5%. Improving value chains for alternative crops is likely more cost-effective than moving the few remaining smallholders out of tobacco.


Agnes Mwangwela, a portrait of a woman sitting in an office chair.

Dr. Agnes Mwangwela

Associate Professor of Food Science and Deputy Vice Chancellor of LUANAR

Dr. Agnes Mwangwela is a Food Scientist with 26 years of experience in university teaching in food science and has supervised 50 postgraduate students at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  

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