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Agricultural Transformation Initiative Hosts First Annual Summit with Key Stakeholders in Malawi to Discuss Economic Diversification on December 4 and 5

Agricultural Transformation Summit to address challenges facing smallholder tobacco farmers as a result of reduced global demand for tobacco

LILONGWE, Malawi, Dec. 4, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) is co-hosting the first annual Agricultural Transformation Summit with Palladium this week as a part of its commitment to support the diversification efforts of tobacco-dependent countries, beginning with Malawi. The two-day summit, taking place December 4-5, will feature a series of discussions with key private sector leaders, research experts, and government officials about how the agriculture sector in Malawi can strengthen alternative value chains and the overall ecosystem. Renowned journalist Femi Oke will moderate the event and participants will discuss strategies for profitable and inclusive diversification, as well as best practices for implementing agricultural transformation.

The summit will also feature a pitch competition, an award ceremony, as well as the introduction of new partnerships. The pitch competition will be led in collaboration with mHub, a local business incubator. Three young agri-preneurs (entrepreneurs who have promising agricultural ventures) will participate in a competition and panel as a first step in the design and implementation of a three-year Agri-preneur Accelerator Program that is due to launch in 2019. Additionally, multiple announcements will be made about new initiatives that will give Malawi partners opportunities to engage with the ATI. Among these enterprises is a partnership to help build the future human capital of Malawi’s agricultural sector with the Rotary Club of Lilongwe through scholarships to students in the Agriculture Faculty of the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).

“As the global demand for tobacco decreases, we believe it’s imperative to support efforts to diversify economies and lessen the reliance of smallholder farmers on tobacco. This is particularly true in Malawi where tobacco accounts for over 60 percent of the country’s total annual earnings and 13 percent of the economy as measured by the gross domestic product.” says Jim Lutzweiler, VP, Agriculture and Livelihoods, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. “These are very complicated issues and that’s why we have partnered with Palladium, who has vast experience in this area, to gather experts in Malawi from various sectors for this summit. We look forward to a productive two-day dialogue.”

“The diversification of smallholder farmers can only succeed through inclusive business models that effectively connect them to markets, finance, and technology in ways that provide much greater economic value to all actors in the ecosystem,” said Eduardo Tugendhat, Director of Thought Leadership at Palladium. “This Summit and the ATI provide an excellent opportunity to leverage existing initiatives and resources in building solutions at scale.”

To ensure Malawi’s economy can thrive despite a worldwide decline in tobacco demand and production, the ATI is working with smallholder tobacco farmers to facilitate the development of complementary structured value chains to make the agriculture sector globally competitive. One of the ATI’s first actions was to issue a request for Expressions of Interest to operate and manage a new Center for Agricultural Transformation in Malawi. The Center’s goal is ultimately to transform the lives of Malawian smallholder tobacco farmers by leveraging innovation in agricultural science and technology.

In October, the ATI issued two requests for proposals (RFP) in support of additional projects in Malawi. The first RFP asks eligible private sector firms, research institutions, other interested entities, and partnerships or consortia to submit proposals that present viable market-led solutions aimed at solving current challenges for transforming smallholder agricultural livelihoods in Malawi. The second RFP seeks to engage in a 3-year preferred collaboration with qualified research partners to provide independent program evaluation and decision-focused research support to the ATI. The preferred partners will help nurture and promote the use of rigorous evidence by the ATI to improve its impact on smallholder tobacco farmers in Malawi.

The ATI is a core pillar of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) 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 diversify tobacco-dependent economies.

About the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Inc.
The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with the purpose of improving global health by ending smoking in this generation. The Foundation supports its mission through three core pillars: Health, Science and Technology; the Agriculture Transformation Initiative; and Industry Transformation. The Foundation’s Health, Science, and Technology work complements ongoing tobacco control efforts and focuses on countries where most smokers live, bringing a smoker-oriented agenda to accelerate quitting and switching to reduced-harm products. The Agricultural Transformation Initiative aims to diversify tobacco-dependent economies, and the Foundation’s Industry Transformation efforts focus on attaining change within the entire global tobacco industry and nicotine ecosystem.

The Foundation has received from Philip Morris International (PMI) a pledge of $80 million annually for 12 years, which began in 2018. Under the Foundation’s bylaws and Pledge Agreement, PMI and the tobacco industry, generally, are precluded from having any control or influence over how the Foundation spends its funds or focuses its activities. The Foundation’s acceptance of the annual pledge does not constitute an endorsement by the Foundation of any of the pledger’s products.

For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.smokefreeworld.org.

About Palladium
Palladium is a global impact firm, working to link social progress and commercial growth. For the past 50 years, we’ve been helping our clients to see the world as interconnected – by formulating strategies, building partnerships, and implementing programs that have a lasting social and financial impact. We simply call this “Positive Impact.”

We work with corporations, governments, investors, communities, and civil society. With a global network operating in over 90 countries, Palladium is in the business of making the world a better place.

For more information about Palladium, please visit www.thepalladiumgroup.com.