With support from the Foundation for a Smoke Free World (FSFW), through the Agricultural Transformation Initiative, Land O’Lakes Venture37 (V37), the University of Minnesota (UMN), Stellenbosch University (SU), and Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) have forged an innovative partnership to establish the Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) as the central hub to catalyze Malawi’s agricultural growth. CAT is the flagship project under FSFW’s Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI).
By leveraging our core partners’ scientific, technological and agribusiness expertise and deep regional connections, the CAT will forge 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 project objective is to increase the prosperity of Malawian smallholder farmers in a world with a declining tobacco demand by accelerating their diversification into the production of alternative crops with similar opportunities for food and financial security.
The Data Solutions Manager is part of the Science Technology and Innovation team and will be responsible for the successful development, coordination and execution of data solutions projects at the CAT; lead the identification of opportunities to apply CAT Data Solutions tools to real-world challenges in agricultural diversification and commercialization; and seek to grow the CAT’s network with partners who have a shared interest in applying data-driven solutions to challenges in the agriculture sector. The Data Solutions manager should have a strong command of quantitative research methodologies, familiarity with the agribusiness landscape in Malawi and be able to be quickly trained on using and managing CAT tools, including utilizing the GEMS Platform (a digital hub for data sets related to Malawian agriculture) and weather station and sensor data.
In order to deliver on the duties and responsibilities outlined below, the Data Solutions Manager will coordinate with experts at consortium partner institutions, namely the University of Minnesota, Stellenbosch University and the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), and with other team members based in Lilongwe. The Data Solutions Manager will report to the STI Director, based on a two-year contract with the possibility of extension.
- Support the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Director in establishing and maintaining relationships with researchers (at MUST, University of Minnesota, Stellenbosch University, as well as CARD at LUANAR) and local public (NAMIS) and private institutions with an interest in CAT Data Solutions tools.
- Act as the primary point of contact for stakeholders interested in accessing and navigating the CAT Data Solutions tools (GEMS Platform and data within the platform, Market Access Tool, Market Segmentation Tool, network of sensors, drone-collected data, and other tools that may be developed) to apply data solutions to real-world challenges in the diversification and commercialization of agricultural value chains.
- Facilitate the design of research questions that can be explored using CAT Data Solutions tools and coordinate the application of the tools to research projects through CAT partner institutions. When appropriate, carry out research assignments using CAT tools and facilitate learnings with partners and clients.
- Support the STI Director in the management of CAT sensor data: coordinate access to data and associated analysis sourced from the sensors, and take the lead in conducting statistical analysis and interpretation of data generated from the sensors and water and soil quality data at the CAT Smart Farms.
- Build capacity of consortium partners on the utilization of CAT Data Solutions tools for research purposes, and data management more generally; provide guidance on the course of study of CAT scholars at partner institutions, when related to field of expertise.
- Establish data collection standards and protocols across CAT initiatives to ensure quality; contribute to internal work planning processes.
- Contribute to Business, Incubation and Commercialization activities as assigned, which may include: input into agtech and hackathon judging and coaching/training, guidance regarding data-driven start-ups and entrepreneurs, and others.
- A Master’s degree in the field of agricultural sciences, agricultural economics, data science or related field.
- 6 years of relevant experience in the Malawi/SADC region, through combined academic and professional experience. A diversity of experiences in the academic and private sector will be highly regarded.
- Strong quantitative background and understanding of data science principles and quantitative research methodologies and their application in business and commercial activities.
- Proficiency in a programming language for statistical computing and graphics (for example: R, Python, Stata).
- Experience working with Malawian agribusinesses and farmers to solve market and production challenges and opportunities.
- Ability to establish and maintain strategic partnerships across academic, public and private sectors and with diverse stakeholders across a range of institutions.
- Highly developed analytical and innovative problem-solving abilities, passionate about agriculture, self-motivated and result-driven, with a proactive approach to work.
- Good command of English, spoken and written.
- Some experience with GIS mapping.
- Command of Chichewa (spoken and written) will improve candidate suitability.