first Malawi’s cohort of 18 Agri-enterprises for business incubation

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The Center for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 awarded its 1st cohort of 18 agri-enterprises to be incubated under its Business Incubation and Commercialization Unit.

The 18 enterprises will cover several value chains including groundnuts, soybeans, apiculture, mushroom, rice, industrial hemp and livestock.

With funding from Foundation for a Smoke Free World through the Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI), CAT will disburse US$1 million ranging from US$10,000 to US$100,000 to 18 enterprises.

CAT Executive Director Macleod Nkhoma told The Maravi Post that besides investment his organisation will provide access to technical assistance, mentoring, coaching and linkage to strategic business partners amongst other support.

“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.

“The agri-enterprises will also access workspace, experimentation space, and demo plots at the upcoming state-of-the-art CAT campus to be based at LUANAR NRC,” says Nkhoma.

He therefore disclosed that the second cohort will access US$1.8 million combined investment value

“With the investment, we expect the ventures to completely create room for alternative to tobacco farming while offering jobs to young men and women in agri-business productions,” says Nkhioma.

One of of the awardees, Global Seeds’s Managing director Shane Phiri assured the nation of continual of producing improved and disease resistance seeds including to farmers.

Phiri said his enterprise is the main supplier of certified seeds including drought tolerant hybrid maize, groundnuts, beans, soya beans, peagon peas, cow peas and among others.

ATI Country Director Dr Candida Nakhumwa express gratitude that the initiative is baring fruits that alternatives cropping to tobacco are being ventured into for social-economic empowerment.

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.

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 16 of the 65 enterprises to pitch to an independent investment committee comprising of value chain, finance, markets and investment experts.

CAT has an additional 5 agri-enterprises being youth who participated in the 2019 AgTech challenge.

AgTech is a science fair designed to include youth in Malawi in designing of innovations for the agricultural sector.

Last year, the students designed labour saving technologies for the groundnut value chain.

CAT will partner with 2 of the 5 enterprises to test their innovations under pre-incubation while the other 3 will undergo capacity support to develop their concepts further in readiness for partnership in 2021.

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