Building on the university's commitment to capacity development in Africa, the grant will be used to establish an autonomous, self-sustaining research institution in Malawi that can help transform the country's agricultural sector and improve the livelihoods of farmers. Like many southern African countries, the primary cash crop in Malawi is tobacco. With international demand for tobacco declining, the country needs outside support and expertise to help diversify its economy.
To that end, MSU researchers from the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics will work closely with public, private, and civil society stakeholders in the country as well as MSU faculty in other disciplines, including geography, entomology, and plant soil and microbial sciences. Project partners include the Malawian National Planning Commission, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Purdue University, and ORG/First Hectares.
"Forward-thinking initiatives like this are critical to the prosperity of many southern African nations like Malawi, where tobacco accounts for over half of the country's national export earnings," said Thomas Jayne, MSU Foundation professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics. "Malawi is arguably the world's most tobacco-dependent country, but many other southern African countries will also need an effective transition strategy. This grant is intended to develop and implement such a strategy."
(Photo credit: Swathi Sridharan)