Agriculture Newsletter Q3 2019 - Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

Third Quarter, 2019

The Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) is committed to diversifying the livelihoods of smallholder tobacco farmers through new thinking, new tools, and new energy.

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Center for Agricultural Transformation (CAT)
The CAT program, which combines scientific research, smallholder farming, business incubation, and large-scale commercialization to facilitate transformational agricultural development, has recently chosen groundnuts as their preliminary value chain focus. Given the labor-intensive nature of groundnut production, the CAT is seeking to encourage labor-saving interventions around lifting (digging), plucking, and shelling groundnuts.

CAT is planning an ag-tech challenge among primary, secondary and tertiary students to generate innovative ideas for labor-saving interventions in groundnut production. Students in the three category levels will conceptualize and potentially prototype minimum viable products that can be showcased at ATI’s second annual summit on 14 – 15 November, 2019.

Investment Support Facility (ISF)
The ISF program, which supports the packaging of international investor-grade transactions with smallholder-inclusive business models, wrapped up its financial sector and crop insurance scoping activities. The team also concluded initial investment pipeline development activities and is quickly moving into pipeline execution. Additionally, they completed a preliminary market assessment of Business Advisory Service Providers (BASPs) that could support the identification, packaging, and closure of transactions under the ISF, and will be issuing a tender to pre-qualify a cadre of BASPs that it can call upon for transaction advisory services.

Malawi’s Policy Agenda for the Transformation of Agriculture (MwAPATA) 
The MwAPATA Institute, which translates into “we’ve achieved it” in Chichewa, is an independent policy think tank run by Michigan State University (MSU). The Institute works closely with the Malawi National Planning Commission, the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), and other groups to accelerate the adoption of Malawian-led programs that drive agricultural transformation and improve smallholder incomes and nutrition.

The Institute will play a leading role in identifying policies that can enhance the investment climate, promote diversification, and increase commercialization and productivity within the agricultural sector. The Institute will also embed a policy coordinator within the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, and work with the World Bank’s “Enabling the Business of Agriculture” group to address regulatory barriers. The Institute’s inaugural steering committee meeting, held on 28 June, convened 14 representatives of Malawi’s private and public sectors, along with civil society and international development partners.

On 21 August, the Institute launched the Ndizotheka Eminent Speaker Series, co-hosted by the National Planning Commission and MSU, with the theme “Achieving the Wealth Creation for All Agenda in Malawi: Defining the Quick Wins.” Speakers included Professor Sir Paul Collier, Dr. Dalitso Kabambe, Joab Chakhaza, the Honorary Goodall Gondwe, Professor Stefan Dercon, and Ngabaghila Chatata.

ATI Fellowship and Scholarship Fund
The new ATI Fellowship and Scholarship Fund is now accepting applications for master’s study and postdoctoral research. Potential applicants can visit the program website for more information and email with questions. Please share with your networks!

LUANAR Scholarship Fund
In June, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Lilongwe, the Rotary Club hosted a ceremony recognizing the scholars selected as part of a pilot fund for exceptional lower-income students. Since receiving funding, the students have returned to LUANAR and resumed their studies.

Technology-Enhanced Finance and Training Extension Pilot
Implemented by Opportunity International, the pilot program has equipped and trained 90 Farmer Support Agents (FSAs) to deliver last-mile financial and extension services to smallholder farmers. Support focuses on training in financial literacy, gender equity, and the paprika, soy, and groundnut value chains as income alternatives to tobacco. Over 4,000 farmers have been profiled across 163 metrics.

Strengthening Smallholder Dairy Agribusiness as a Viable Alternative to Tobacco 
The Central Region Milk Producers Association (CREMPA) has supported farmers in the tobacco-dominant central region by providing 40 dairy farmers with their own dairy cows and 28 dairy farmers with bicycles. The organization has also completed construction of a model dairy cowshed, offering smallholder farmers a chance to see how they can improve their own cowsheds for clean milk production and mastitis disease control. The program will continue to support capacity building within the CREMPA collective by promoting trainings for improved cattle management, animal health, breeding, disease prevention, and more.

Business Unusual: Connecting Smallholder Malawian Farmers to Resilient Agricultural Systems
Des Moines, Iowa, USA. 16 October.
At the World Food Prize’s annual Borlaug Dialogue, ATI and select partners will hold a side event to describe ATI’s strategies, activities, and opportunities for collaboration. The discussion will address, among other things, how to leverage partnerships to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and resilience.

African Green Revolution Forum
Accra, Ghana. 3 – 6 September. 
Africa’s leading “platform of agriculture platforms” brings together a range of critical stakeholders in the agriculture landscape to discuss programs, investments, and policies that can counter major challenges affecting the continent’s agriculture sector. This year’s theme is “
Grow Digital”.

Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF)
Cape Town, South Africa. 29 – 30 October. 
AWIEF is an international forum that congregates global thought leaders, industry experts, policymakers, academics, development organizations, and investors to  discuss strategies for galvanizing Africa’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. The conference theme this year is 
“Enhancing Impact: Digitalization, Investment and Intra-African Trade.”  The two-day event aims to accelerate the growth of women-owned and women-led businesses in Africa.

Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) Investment Manager Training
Kampala, Uganda. 28 October – 1 November. 
This five-day course by ANDE covers all aspects of investing in small businesses in emerging markets. Comprised of a series of cases studies, this is the only investment management course that focuses on impact investing in emerging markets.

The Second Annual ATI Summit will be held in Lilongwe on 14-15 November. More information will be released soon! To stay up to date, keep an eye on our 
Interested in working with ATI? Keep an eye out for the following programs, which will be released on our website in September:

Malawi Nutrition Assessment. ATI will be seeking partners to complete a scoping exercise to develop a menu of contextually-appropriate nutrition interventions, or a standalone nutrition program, that ATI can implement alongside existing programs. 

The ATI is a core pillar of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, an independent, U.S. nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with the purpose of improving global health by ending smoking in this generation.

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