The Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) has called upon agricultural entrepreneurs to come up with innovative solutions aimed at addressing the myriad challenges smallholder farmers encounter in the country.
CAT Executive Director Macleod Nkhoma was speaking in Lilongwe during a two-day agribusiness clinic workshop for 35 agriculture-focused enterprises and start-ups drawn from its Business Incubation and Commercialization program and Entrepreneurship Academy at Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST).
“We need to hold hands and work to make a difference in the life of a farmer. There is a lot of work out there to help our smallholder farmers who are facing so many challenges.
“Helping farmers to diversify their value chains, adopt new technologies and commercialize new innovations will be key in addressing some if not all these farmer challenges,” he said.
He told participants that their attendance of the workshop would only be useful if the knowledge gained would ultimately benefit smallholder farmers.
The two-day workshop aims to empower participants with necessary knowledge and skills for scaling up their operations in alternative value chains, and enhancing access to external opportunities for formal financing, investment and strategic partnerships.
Rizvaan Khan, Agriculture and Economic Programs Manager at the Agricultural Transformation Initiative, said the workshop was significant because it would help entrepreneurs on how to navigate the challenging business landscape in Malawi by developing effective business plans.
One of the participants, Madalitso Chipekwe – Executive Director of ACADES Microfinance – described the workshop as timely, arguing it would help strengthen her organization’s business strategy to make profits and better reach out to young smallholder farmers with loans.
“We are providing loans to young farmers because of the gap which is there and we want to reach 25,000 farmers this year. It is important for a business to have a growth strategy and a clear model and this workshop will help us gain knowledge on how to move forward in business,” said Chikwekwe.
CAT is a consortium of four leading academic and agricultural institutions – Land O’Lakes Venture37, University of Minnesota, Stellenbosch University, and MUST with funding from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’s Agricultural Transformation Initiative.