LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)- Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) on Thursday, April 20, 2023 handed over the land to SR Nicholas Building Contracting Company for the construction of Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) facility at Natural Resources College (NRC) campus in the capital Lilongwe.
CAT facility which is 20km from the Lilongwe town, will be built with funding from a grant from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World and the support of the Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI).
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.
The 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.
Addressing the media after handing four hectors of land, LUANAR Council Chairperson Professor Zachary Kasomekera said CAT centre will showcase multiple improved technologies to support the adoption of diversified agricultural practices and technologies and increase productivity.
Professor Kasomekera disclosed that CAT facility construction follows a MK3 billion grant agreement signed in December, 2022 between LUANAR and Foundation for a SmokeFree World.
“CAT building is purposively designed to be an inclusive science, technology, and business incubation centre of excellence that helps smallholder Malawian farmers in making economically viable, data driven decisions for diversifying their livelihoods.
“The construction of the CAT building therefore is timely as it will facilitates the university engagement with the farmers.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Centre for Transformation Building will add value to LUANAR as it will enhance its research and outreach capacity through interaction with farmers who will be patronizing the building,” excited Professor Kasomekera.
He added, ” Our students will also benefit from this initiative. Furthermore, this initiative will contribute to Pillar Number 1 of the Malawi 2063 (Agricultural Productivity and Commercialization) which will see farmers being equipped with knowledge and skills for improved agricultural productivity.
“I would like to thank the Foundation for a SmokeFree World for their financial support of this building, which will facilitate the development of new technologies, partnerships, and income opportunities to help farmers achieve greater economic success. The Foundation’s commitment to agricultural transformation is commendable and should not go unnoticed”.
Echoing on the same, Candida Nakhumwa, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’s Vice President and ATI Country Director said CAT building architecture challenge was to create an efficient design that reflects the program, its location and its climate.
Nakhumwa disclosed that ORG Urbanism and Architecture BV designed on new research and development facility will be organized into four different entities wrapped around a central and covered courtyard while being the heart of the building where people will meet, exchange ideas, teach and learn.
She added that the facility 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.
“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,” excited Nakhumwa.
The key CAT center technical grogram including 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
- CAT centre will also be 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.
- The facility will provide 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.