Construction of Centre for Agricultural Transformation to Begin as LUANAR Hands Over Land to SR Nicholas Building Contracting Company
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 20, 2023
LUANAR also took ownership of the hub that will help smallholder tobacco farmers become less dependent on tobacco farming, and further partnerships with academic and research institutions
LILONGWE, MALAWI: Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) has accepted ownership and possession of the Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) facility that will be built with funding from a Foundation for a Smoke-Free World grant and the support of the Agricultural Transformation Initiative. Designed to be an inclusive science, technology, and business incubation center of excellence, the CAT program is already helping smallholder tobacco farmers make economically viable, data-driven decisions for diversifying their livelihoods. This new building will be a physical hub for training, learning and innovation that will be connected to the LUANAR campus and the surrounding farms and villages.
LUANAR has handed over 4 ha land that is adjacent to their Natural Resources Campus to SR Nicholas for the CAT construction project. The land surrounding the CAT building, which is 20 km from Lilongwe, will showcase multiple improved technologies to support the adoption of diversified agricultural practices and technologies and increase productivity.
The CAT building architecture challenge was to create an efficient design that reflects the program, its location and its climate. ORG Urbanism and Architecture BV designed this new research and development facility that will be organized into four different entities wrapped around a central and covered courtyard, which will be the heart of the building where people will meet, exchange ideas, teach and learn. It will be constructed as a progressive hybrid environment, which merges practice and academia, agriculture and industry, science and technology.
“The Centre for Agricultural Transformation supports the efforts of farmers and businesses to build long-term resilience by diversifying agricultural production and increasing their levels of productivity in Malawi,” said Candida Nakhumwa, Vice President and Country Director, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. “We look forward to more collaborations with Malawian businesses, scientists, and innovators whose ideas could be incorporated into helping advance the mission of the CAT.”
Key activities of the CAT Technical Program include:
Serving as a hub for science, technology, and innovation, where promising agricultural technologies can be demonstrated to smallholder farmers, entities with inclusive business models and the community at large can experiment, use data, exchange ideas, develop business plans, and create partnerships to advance new livelihood opportunities for smallholder farmers.
Awarding grants to emerging and established agricultural entrepreneurs, businesses, and research institutions dedicated to science and technology, and to incubating and advancing innovative ideas that fulfill help diversify the agricultural sector and support development of markets for agricultural commodities and products.
Providing customized technical assistance to awardees, including mentorship, business development support, and connections to networks to help advance agricultural diversification including by increasing the scale and teaching smallholder farmers about products, practices, and technologies that can improve their livelihoods.
The Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) is a science, technology, and business incubation project that promotes the charitable mission of supporting smallholder Malawian farmers in making economically viable, data-driven decisions for diversifying their incomes and ridding them of their dependence on tobacco farming. Launched in 2019, the CAT is supported by a grant from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, with general assistance from the Foundation’s affiliate, the Agricultural Transformation Initiative.
The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World is a nonprofit, independent grantmaking organization, dedicated to ending smoking in this generation. Recognizing that its charitable mission entails an accelerated decline in global tobacco demand, the Foundation aims to diversify tobacco-dependent economies. In Malawi, the Foundation makes grants to agricultural, rural development and smallholder experts who work on identifying alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers.