Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) has called for aggressive diversification drive to embrace all lucrative agriculture value chains.
CAT executive director Macleod Nkhoma said this on Friday when his organisation in partnership with Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) awarded CAT’s first cohort of 18 agri-enterprises with incubation certificates.
He said: “Tobacco crop should be a key learning value chain for the country and we cannot just rely on one value chain.
“Diversification is what we need as a country We need to look at a portfolio of various value chains to contribute to the economy.”
The 18 agri-enterprises are to access a combined $1 million (about K770 million) incubation capital.
ATI country director Candida Nakhumwa called for partnerships if agriculture transformation was to be achieved through embracing multiple value chains in the agriculture sector.
She said if other value chains can be supported with fully-fledged research, extension services and structured markets, then commercial banks will be willing to finance agriculture sector just as is the case with tobacco.
One of the beneficiary enterprises, Global Seed’s managing director Shane Phiri said they produce varieties of improved disease-resistant seeds such as maize, groundnuts, soyabeans; hence, they were awarded to promote their technologies to farmers.
CAT first cohort will incubate 18 enterprises covering several value chains, including groundnuts, soyabeans, apiculture, mushroom, rice, industrial hemp and livestock.
The technologies range from inclusive seed multiplication models, in-grower and out-grower models to mechanisation, access to markets and finance, artificial insemination, organic manure, extension SMS platformand use of mobile service for livestock insurance.
CAT is a hub designed to support diversification of the country’s agriculture and increase smallholder revenues by inclusively easing reliance on the tobacco value chain through awareness, deployment and commercialisation of demand and data-driven research, innovations, technologies and partnerships.
The CAT project is funded by the Foundation for a Smoke Free World through the ATI.