Agriculture Newsletter Q4 2019 - Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

Quarter Four, 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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ATI was thrilled to host our second Agricultural Transformation Summit on 14 November, 2019 in Lilongwe, Malawi. Through the theme of inclusive science, technology, and innovation, we gathered hundreds of participants for a day of inspirational discussions and events. To learn more, check out our post-Summit blog or the 2019 Summit webpage. We aim to host the third Agricultural Transformation Summit in March 2021. 
Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT)
The CAT program successfully completed their first AgTech Challenge, which took place one day prior to the Agricultural Transformation Summit. The event called for primary, secondary and tertiary students to generate innovative ideas for labor-saving interventions in groundnut production. Out of over 60 applicants, 19 finalists were invited to attend the Summit to show off their prototypes and designs. Judges included: Malawian innovator and inventor William Kamkwamba (author of 
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind); Derek Yach, the President of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World; Manzoor Bheda, a commercial farmer; and Candida Nakhumwa, Country Director for ATI.

First place winners of the AgTech challenge were:

  • Primary school category: Kelvin Batwell of Nkhukwa Primary School.
  • Secondary school category: Team Green Intellectuals of Dzaleka Community Day Secondary School.
  • Tertiary school category: Sylvia Makupe, recent graduate of the Malawi University for Science and Technology.

Demonstration of a labor-saving invention from Kelvin Batwell of Nkhukwa Primary School

Investment Support Facility (ISF)

The ISF program, which supports the packaging of international investor-grade transactions with smallholder-inclusive business models, held a one-day, invitation-only workshop. At this event, held on November 13, investors collaborated with Transaction Advisory Service Providers (TASPs) to build relationships, manage expectations, and exchange information in advance of the Summit.

Following the Summit, on November 15, the ISF team also held a training session with TASPs, which focused on measuring smallholder impact as a result of different types of transactions. The program is continuing to support the development of a strong cadre of local TASPs, and is working on several transactions.

Malawi’s Policy Agenda for the Transformation of Agriculture (MwAPATA) 
Michigan State University (MSU) is pleased to announce that the Executive Director of the MwAPATA Institute, Dr. Sloans Chimatiro, officially started his post in November. He joins the Institute’s Research Director, Dr. Milu Muyanga, and research associate, Dr. Christone Nyondo. Five additional positions at the Institute (policy analysts, research assistants, and a finance officer) are in the process of being filled. MwAPATA has completed its first major research initiatives, including: (1) the ATI Baseline Survey of 3,500 smallholder households; and (2) an extension experiment in collaboration with the national agricultural extension service.

Save the date:  The official launch of the MwAPATA Institute will take place on 17 March, 2020 in Lilongwe.

ATI Fellowship and Scholarship Fund
The ATI Fellowship and Scholarship Fund (ATI FSF) Selection Committee convened on November 18 and selected 19 master’s students from Malawi to attend universities in the United States. They will study agriculture, data science, ecology/environmental science, engineering, and business. The Committee also selected seven postdocs. The 
postdoc application has been reopened for those interested who meet the eligibility requirements. Please share with any interested postdocs in your network!

LUANAR Scholarship Fund
In June, the Rotary Club hosted a ceremony recognizing 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 and now in its 4th quarter, the pilot program has equipped and trained 194 Farmer Support Agents (FSAs) to deliver last-mile financial and extension services to smallholder farmers. Support focuses on training in financial literacy and gender equity, as well as the paprika, soy, and groundnut value chains as income alternatives to tobacco. Together with Imani Development Malawi and the Agricultural Transformation Initiative, Opportunity International published a Value Chain and Gross Margin Analysis to assess the potential household profitability of the soy, groundnut, paprika, and chili value chains.

Opportunity aggregated appropriate training materials for groundnuts and soybean; they also held discussions with Pyxus and other businesses for approval on what agronomy material should be delivered to their respective farmers. Opportunity developed six training videos based on approved content. Using these videos, FSAs conducted trainings that reached over 8,119 individuals in the first round of engagement.

As the rains have begun in Malawi, the country has imported Tikolore soy and Malawian inoculant, both of which have been distributed to farmers under a loan from First Capital Bank. To date, over 6,800 farmers have been profiled; and a token credit scorecard has been developed and rolled out to segment these farmers in terms credit readiness.

Strengthening Smallholder Dairy Agribusiness as a Viable Alternative to Tobacco 
Entering the final period of their grant, the Central Region Milk Producers Association (CREMPA) has successfully delivered 40 dairy cows to collectives in milk bulking groups in Bua and Chioshya. CREMPA has also delivered a myriad of successful trainings on resource mobilization, financial management, clean milk production, artificial insemination, disease control, and monitoring. The program has set up a revolving fund for the purchase of bicycles to ensure the sustainability of funds into the future.

Rebuilding Smallholder Farmers’ Livelihoods through Agriculture Recovery 
ATI is working with the Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) to rehabilitate irrigation schemes that were damaged during the March 2019 floods in Dedza. FUM has completed an initial assessment, and it is due to make a decision on the irrigation schemes to rehabilitate in collaboration with local District Agriculture Development Offices soon.

Digital Financial Services Pilot 
Strategic Impact Advisors (SIA) has been awarded a grant to pilot a digital financial services rural stimulation campaign in the Zomba district. SIA will work with TNM Mpamba to test usage among 500 smallholder farmers of various digital products, including mobile money, checking and savings, and funeral insurance. In November, SIA conducted market focus groups with the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM) and Mwandama Coop farmers to inform the upcoming campaign.

Survey collection with SIA

Critical Success Factors for Soy Dairy Development and Scaling

Webinar. 23 January, 2020, 10:00am EST

Hundreds of soy dairy enterprises have been launched by NGOs across the globe in an effort to bring improved nutrition to local communities. Yet reliable data on the performance, sustainability, and profitability of these enterprises is lacking. Partnering with the USAID Malawi Feed the Future Agriculture Diversification (AgDiv) Activity, the Soybean Innovation Lab has tracked economic and performance data of 5 local soy dairy enterprises and 199 soy kit recipients in Malawi, including the Tayamba Soy Dairy Cooperative.


Sankalp Africa Summit 2020

Nairobi, Kenya. 27 – 28, February 2020 

The Sankalp Africa Summit is one of the region’s leading events for social entrepreneurship and impact investing. Every year, the summit hosts hundreds of game-changing social entrepreneurs, who interact with investors and ecosystem builders. 

We do not currently have any active opportunities for partnership. Interested in working with ATI? Keep an eye out on our website.


Multi-crop thresher demonstration from Bountifield International and the Soybean Innovation Lab

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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