The Centre for Agriculture Transformation (CAT) has encouraged small scale farmers in the country to take livelihoods diversification seriously describing it as a potential source of foreign exchange earnings and that farmers themselves can also have an alternative source of income.
Speaking during the business incubation partnership cocktail at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe on Tuesday, executive director Macleod Nkhoma said it is high time the country has depended much on tobacco which its income is dwindling.
“This country has relied much on tobacco for exports and now its income has been going down and therefore we need various value chains where farmers can diversify into and once the farmers have diversified their livelihoods, they will have income alternatives from those other value chains,” he said
With funding from the Foundation for a Smoke Free World through the Agricultural Transformation Initiative, under its Business Incubation and Commercialization Unit, CAT has unveiled its 1st cohort that will incubate 18 enterprises to cover several value chains i.e. groundnuts, soybeans, apiculture, mushroom, rice, industrial hemp and livestock.
However, the technologies range from inclusive seed multiplication models, in-grower and out-grower models to mechanization, access to markets and finance, artificial insemination, organic manure, extension SMS platform and use of mobile service for livestock insurance.
According to Nkhoma, the identified enterprises will access a combined investment value of 1 Million United States Dollars ($1M USD) and that besides this investment; CAT will provide access to technical assistance, mentoring, coaching and linkage to strategic business partners amongst other support.
“To identify these Agri-enterprises, CAT put out an Expression of Interest in the local newspapers and circulated the call on social media channels; this drew 181 applications from enterprises within Malawi. Through a rigorous proposal development, evaluation and due diligence process, CAT shortlisted the deserving ones,” he added
Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) Country Director Dr. Candida Nakhumwa said there is a need for partnerships if the agriculture sector in Malawi is to fully be transformed.
Nakhumwa said it is gratifying to look at the value chains being targeted saying she is optimistic that those will help to boost the economy of the country.
“Apart from depending only on Tobacco, we need to identify multiple value chains and develop those into something that can jointly contribute in bridging the gap that is being created as the revenues from tobacco continue to decline then the revenues from these value chains can begin to fill in those gaps and boost our economy,” She said
The Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) is a hub designed to support diversification of Malawian agriculture and increase small holder revenues by inclusively easing reliance on the tobacco value chain through awareness, deployment and commercialization of demand- and data-driven research, innovations, technologies and partnerships.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :