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Farmers challenged on entrepreneurship

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By Mike Chipalasa, contributor

The Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) has called on agricultural entrepreneurs to identify and develop programmes that solve challenges smallholder farmers encounter in the country.

The call was made last week in Lilongwe by CAT Executive Director Macleod Nkhoma during a three-day workshop targeting 35 agricultural enterprises and start-ups the organisation has been supporting in the past two years.

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“We need to hold hands and work to make a difference in the life of a farmer. There is a lot of work out there to help our smallholder farmers who are facing so many challenges,” he said.

Nkhoma said encouraging farmers to diversify their value chains and adopting new technologies was crucial to addressing challenges farmers face.

The three-day workshop aimed to empower participants with knowledge and skills for scaling up their operations in alternative value chains, including enhancing access to external opportunities for formal financing, investment and strategic partnerships.

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Agriculture and Economic Programmes Manager at the Agricultural Transformation Initiative Rizvaan Khan said the workshop provided insights to entrepreneurs how to navigate the country’s challenging business landscape through development of effective business plans.

One of the participants, Madalitso Chipekwe — Executive Director of ACADES Microfinance – described the workshop as timely, arguing it would help strengthen her organisation’s business strategy to make profits and better reach younger smallholder farmers with loans.

CAT is a consortium of four leading academic and agricultural institutions – Land O’Lakes Venture37, University of Minnesota, Stellenbosch University, and Malawi University of Science and Technology—with funding from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’s Agricultural Transformation Initiative.

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