Africa Press Releases

Agricultural Transformation Initiative to Host Key Stakeholders in the Agriculture Sector for Second Annual Summit in Malawi on November 14

Best-Selling Author and Malawian William Kamkwamba to Give Keynote Address and Participate in Activities Based on Summit’s Theme: “The Role of Inclusive Science, Technology, and Innovation in Driving Agricultural Transformation”

LILONGWE, Malawi, Nov. 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) will hold its Second Annual Agricultural Transformation Summit at the Bingu International Conference Center (BICC) in Lilongwe on November 14, 2019. Part of the ATI’s ongoing commitment to economic diversification in Malawi, the event will convene over 200 guests from local government, private, and farming sectors, as well as international delegations. Summit participants will exchange ideas and discuss issues based on the event’s theme: “The Role of Inclusive Science, Technology, and Innovation in Driving Agricultural Transformation.”

Noted author William Kamkwamba (The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) will be the keynote speaker and renowned journalist Femi Oke will serve as the host and moderator, a role she held at the first summit last year. Also scheduled to participate are: the Hon. Kondwani Nankhumwa, MP, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development; Dr. Derek Yach, President of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World; Professor George Kanyama Phiri, Vice Chancellor, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and Professor Address Malata, Vice Chancellor, Malawi University of Science and Technology.

“Last year’s summit was a great success that led to the advancement of several ATI programs designed to help drive diversification so that Malawi’s economy will become less dependent on tobacco,” says Jim Lutzweiler, Vice President of Agriculture and Livelihoods, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. “We anticipate another engaging event and look forward to identifying more opportunities for lasting change as we explore the role of inclusive science, technology, and innovation in driving agricultural transformation.”

The day before the summit, the Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) will host an Agricultural Technology Science Fair. Called the “AgTech Challenge,” this event invites primary, secondary, and tertiary students to present innovations that address challenges faced by Malawian groundnut farmers. An expert judge panel will select the inventions that have the highest chance of commercialization. Mr. Kamkwamba, who is also an inventor and farmer, has been mentoring the students alongside the CAT team and will act as a guest judge.

“I was interested in partnering with the CAT team from the moment they approached me about the AgTech Challenge; this is a space where we need many partners working together,” said Mr. Kamkwamba. “For me, it was great working with students to develop solutions and to help shape their ideas. There are so many talented young people in Malawi and encouraging them to use their creativity for problem solving is crucial.”

Since launching at the first Agricultural Transformation Summit in December 2018, the ATI has established key partnerships and supported a number of projects in Malawi, including:

  • The Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT): The CAT is designed to be an inclusive science, technology, and business incubation center of excellence that facilitates transformational agricultural development. The groundnut value chain has been selected as their preliminary focus. Construction on the CAT facility in Lilongwe is on track to begin soon and is scheduled to be completed in 2020.
  • Investment Support Facility (ISF): The ISF program supports the packaging of international investor-grade transactions with smallholder-inclusive business models. The ISF recently wrapped up its financial sector and crop insurance scoping activities.
  • MwAPATA Institute: The MwAPATA Institute, which translates into “we’ve achieved it” in Chichewa, is an independent policy think tank run by Michigan State University. The Institute works closely with the Malawi National Planning Commission, the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and other groups. Their collective goal is to accelerate the adoption of Malawian-led programs that drive agricultural transformation and improve smallholder incomes and nutrition.
  • ATI Fellowship and Scholarship Fund: The new ATI Fellowship and Scholarship Fund is designed to fund Malawians in pursuit of their master’s degree or postdoctoral research at select universities across the United States and South Africa. The Institute of International Education, Inc. is managing this initiative, which, after a rigorous application process, will welcome its first cohort of master’s students in August 2020.
  • Technology-Enhanced Finance and Training Extension Pilot: Implemented by Opportunity International, this pilot program has equipped and trained over 90 Farmer Support Agents to deliver last-mile financial and extension services to smallholder farmers. It focuses on training in financial literacy, gender equity, and selected value chains as income alternatives to tobacco. Over 6,000 farmers have been profiled across 163 metrics.
  • Strengthening Smallholder Dairy Agribusiness as a Viable Alternative to Tobacco: The Central Region Milk Producers Association (CREMPA) has supported farmers in the tobacco-dominant central region by providing 40 dairy farmers with their own cows and 28 dairy farmers with bicycles. The organization has also completed construction of a model cowshed, offering smallholder farmers a chance to see how they can improve their own cowsheds for clean milk production and mastitis disease control.

About the ATI
The 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.

For more information, contact:
Agricultural Transformation Initiative: Nicole Bradley,