With support from the Foundation for a Smoke Free World through the Agricultural Transformation Initiative, Land O’Lakes Venture37, the University of Minnesota, Stellenbosch University, and Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) have forged an innovative partnership to establish the Center for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) as the central hub to catalyze Malawi’s agricultural growth. By leveraging our core partners’ scientific, technological and agribusiness expertise and deep regional connections, the CAT forges integrated research-to-impact pathways that reduce productivity gaps between men and women and foster diversified, resilient and healthy smallholder households, particularly those transitioning from tobacco farming to alternative livelihoods.
The CAT will be a world class hub for creating, piloting, and scaling appropriate science, technology, and business models that will transform smallholder tobacco farmers’ lives and Malawi’s agriculture sector in general. This center of excellence aims to uniquely combine research, smallholder farming, and large-scale commercialization in a manner that facilitates transformational agricultural development in Malawi. We envision the CAT as an anchor institution in the global ag-tech innovation ecosystem, where reimagination, experimentation, and refinement of new ideas take place through the intermingling of cutting-edge research and development (R&D), market research, evidence-based decision making, new business models and product pilots, and entrepreneurs.
The Agronomy Services Manager is part of the CAT Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) team and will be responsible for the successful management of CAT land used for trialing, demonstration and promotion of scalable technologies that can be used by farmers (including smallholders) to improve their productivity.
The Agronomy Services Manager will be responsible for coordinating, conducting and promoting demonstrations and product advancement trials (PAT) sponsored by potential private- and public-sector partners who want to use CAT land to showcase novel agricultural technologies for farmers and agri-service providers. The Agronomy Services Manager will be responsible for supporting relevant stakeholders throughout all of Malawi to make informed choices regarding the adoption of new technologies, especially farmers. As such, she/he will be responsible for providing overall product performance evaluations and product gap analysis for the identified demand-driven technologies.
- Coordinating CAT agronomy services on CAT land holdings (e.g., land around the CAT premises, CAT plots at LUANAR NRC campus, and CAT plots at LUANAR BUNDA campus).
- Supporting the design and establishment of CAT system of demonstration and trial plots and lead the day-to-day operationalization of the CAT land holdings.
- Managing operational staff to ensure land is prepared, planted, cultivated, maintained and harvested in a timely and quality manner.
- Ensuring compliance with safety protocols and policies.
- Annual planning and budgeting for the agronomy service activities.
- Reporting on the status of Smart Farm activities, including contributing technical content to communications materials and formal reporting documents.
- Conducting agribusiness PATs and demonstrations on CAT land holdings
- Assisting with the product selection process and the development of planting and irrigation schedules, budgets, and timelines.
- Collecting and analyzing seed, plant, and soil samples and testing samples for nutritional deficiencies, diseases, or other changes.
- Keeping detailed records regarding fields, customers, crops, and samples.
- Conducting statistical analysis of PAT data to best assess the product strengths.
- Generating reports and presenting findings to management, clients, or other interested parties, including committees for product registrations.
- Promoting products and techniques through educational presentations.
- Developing technical training materials for maximizing productivity of identified products in collaboration with key stakeholders, e.g., the Peanut and Soybean Innovation Labs.
- Conducting training and demonstration tours for relevant stakeholders (e.g., private-sector teams, extension officers and farmers) on product knowledge, best agricultural practices, etc.
- Providing personalized consultation services to CAT partners.
- Supporting private-sector sales teams on product characterization, management, and marketing.
- Maintain professional development and professional relationships with key university, industry and government personnel
Required Skills and Qualifications:
- Master’s Degree in Agriculture, preferably in the agronomy-related field.
- 5+ years’ relevant experience in Malawi/SADC region
- Delivers clear, concise and effective verbal and written messages appropriate to one’s audience(s).
- Demonstrated experience and success in managing trials on various technologies.
- Experience in developing and implementing trial plots for a public or private sector organization (including design of trial plots and trial protocols).
- A good understanding of the public (DARS, ATCC, etc.), private, academia, NGO and investment environment in Malawi and the ability to negotiate and foster strategic partnerships to support sustainable agricultural transformation.
- Demonstrated experience and sound understanding of farmer technology adoption models.
- Capacity to periodically write/present high-quality reports on project activities and results under tight deadlines for a wide range of stakeholders.
- Highly developed conceptual, analytical and innovative problem-solving ability.
- Strong inter-personal skills, self-motivated and result-driven, with ability to effectively build and manage networks and relationships for program promotion and issues resolution.
- Maintains effectiveness despite changes; can change direction quickly; can support/adapt to change.
- Good command of English and Chichewa, spoken and written.