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Center for Agricultural Transformation in Malawi to help smallholder farmers diversify their livelihoods

May 13, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 13, 2019
CONTACT: Nicole Bradley, Agricultural Transformation Initiative
nicole.bradley@smokefreeworld.org

Launching this month, the Center will partner with academic and research institutions, farmers, businesses, financial institutions, and local associations to help unlock new income opportunities

LILONGWE, MALAWI: Working together with universities, businesses, and farmers throughout Malawi, a new project will help smallholder farmers diversify their incomes to build resilience and ease the heavy reliance on the declining tobacco sector. Based in Lilongwe, the Center for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) will facilitate the development of new technologies, partnerships, and income opportunities to help farmers achieve greater economic certainty in the coming years.

“Domestic, regional, and international agriculture markets are changing. Using scientific, technological, and agribusiness expertise and deep regional connections, the Center for Agricultural Transformation will help farmers and businesses build long-term resilience through diversifying agricultural production in Malawi,” said Giselle Aris, Program Director for the Center for Agricultural Transformation. “We look forward to collaborating with Malawian businesses, scientists, and innovators whose ideas could be expanded through business incubation and commercialization.”

Key activities of the CAT will include:

  • Awarding grants to emerging and established agricultural entrepreneurs, businesses, and research institutions dedicated to science and technology, and to incubating and commercializing innovative ideas that fulfill market needs.
  • Serving as a hub for science, technology, and innovation, where entities with inclusive business models and the community at large can experiment, use data, exchange ideas, participate in hackathons, develop business plans, and create partnerships to advance new livelihood opportunities for smallholder farmers.
  • Providing customized technical assistance to awardees, including mentorship, business development support, and connections to networks to help scale and commercialize products, practices, and technologies.

The CAT is made possible by a grant from the Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI), which aims to diversify tobacco-dependent economies. The project will draw on the expertise of a consortium of partner organizations – including Land O’Lakes International Development, the University of Minnesota, Stellenbosch University, and the Malawi University of Science and Technology.

“The impressive consortium of domestic and international partners managing the CAT have years of experience developing successful programs,” said Candida Nakhumwa, Country Director, ATI. “This will be a world-class hub that combines scientific research, smallholder farming, and business cultivation to drive transformational agricultural development.”

About the Center for Agricultural Transformation (CAT)

The CAT, announced in 2019, is a science, technology, and business incubation project that will strategically commercialize and disseminate innovations to support smallholder Malawian farmers in making economically viable, data-driven decisions for diversifying incomes. The CAT consortium includes four leading agricultural development and academic institutions, including Land O’Lakes International Development (Minnesota, USA); the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (Minnesota, USA); Stellenbosch University (Stellenbosch, South Africa); and the Malawi University of Science and Technology (Thylo, Malawi). The CAT is expected to be operational in May 2019, and will be headquartered in Lilongwe, Malawi.

About the Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI)

The Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) is a core pillar of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, an independent, US 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the purpose of improving global health by ending smoking in this generation. Recognizing that the Foundation’s mission entails an accelerated decline in global tobacco demand, the ATI aims to support diversification of tobacco-dependent economies.

The Foundation has received from Philip Morris International (PMI) a pledge of $80 million annually for 12 years, which began in 2018. Under the Foundation’s Bylaws and Pledge Agreement, PMI and the tobacco industry, generally, are precluded from having any control or influence over how the Foundation spends its funds or focuses its activities. The Foundation’s acceptance of the annual pledge does not constitute an endorsement by the Foundation of any of the pledger’s products.

For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.smokefreeworld.org.