Science, Technology & Innovation Technical Specialist

Land O'Lakes, Malawi

Skill Required:, Project/ Programme Management
Preferred Experience: 
Above 10 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 
16th August, 2020

Job Description


Land O'Lakes Venture37 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to helping communities around the world build economies by strengthening local agriculture, helping agribusinesses create jobs and linking farmers to markets. Since 1981, it has implemented over 315 integrated dairy, livestock and crops development programs in nearly 80 countries — creating lasting impact by linking farmers, businesses, and the public and private sector in local and global contexts. Land O’Lakes Venture37’s long-standing affiliation with Land O’Lakes, Inc. sets it apart. Land O’Lakes, Inc. is one of America’s largest farmer-owned cooperatives. It supports Land O’Lakes Venture37 project implementation with nearly 100 years of expertise in dairy, animal nutrition, crop inputs and agricultural insights and technologies. This gives Land O’Lakes Venture37 development projects a unique global view of agriculture, food and the power of well-functioning market systems. Land O’Lakes, Inc. supports these efforts as part of its enterprise purpose of Feeding Human Progress at home and around the world.

Project Description:

Transforming Malawian and African agriculture requires new technologies, new partnerships, and new approaches to link farmers to rapidly changing domestic, regional, and international food and agriculture markets. Land O’Lakes Venture37 (Venture37), 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. By leveraging their core partners’ scientific, technological, and agribusiness expertise and deep regional connections, 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 team has designed CAT to be a science and technology center of excellence, differentiated globally through its smallholder-centric model of technology development, dissemination, and deployment. They envision CAT as an anchor institution in the global ag-tech innovation ecosystem, serving as the headquarters for “Smallholder Silicon Valley” where reimagination, experimentation, and refinement of new ideas take place through the intermingling of cutting-edge research and development (R&D), market research, evidenced-based decision making, new business models, product pilots, and entrepreneurs.

Scope of Work:

The STI Technical Specialist is responsible for advancing the STI mandate within the CAT, including, but not limited to: facilitating partnership activities that leverage CAT; cultivating and engaging a network of agricultural researchers in Malawi; co-facilitating a research-on-demand pipeline development and activity progress; and working closely with CAT’s local academic partners (MUST and LUANAR) on capacity building initiatives related to STI​.

In order to deliver on the duties and responsibilities outlined below, the STI Director will work closely a range of Technical Advisors including experts from UMN and SU, as well as other CAT team members based in Lilongwe such as the Executive Director, BIC Director, Portfolio Managers, Grants Manager, and others. The STI Director will be supported by an Agronomic Services Manager and STI Program Manager, who will take the lead on coordinating field-based activities on CAT land.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Scope for relevant private sector firms/companies and assess them for possible involvement in demonstrating ag-production technologies (including seed, seedlings, agro-chemicals, crop nutrition etc.) on CAT hub demonstration plots
  • Research and recommend priority value chains for CAT, based on existing value chain studies, interviews with market participants, and potential for generating impact. This also includes value chains not currently in Malawi.
  • Research and recommend technologies relevant to CAT and Malawi. These include improved seed varieties, growing methods limited to good agricultural practices, and post-harvest technologies primarily the use of hermetic bags and value addition (oil processing).
  • Engage members of CAT’s research network (e.g., DARS, MUST, LUANAR, ATI partners, etc.), to coordinate the identification of technologies for the CAT.
  • Manage relationships with and technical assistance provision to MUST and LUANAR
  • Support lab network program development


  • Bi-weekly updates to program workplan
  • Partnership recommendations for CAT hub demonstration plots
  • Report on priority value chains for CAT; technologies relevant to CAT
  • Recommendations for lab network program development

Required Skills and Qualifications:

  • 10+ years’ relevant experience in Malawi/SADC region, with a good understanding of academia, the public and private sector.
  • Master’s Degree in an agriculture related field. PhD holders highly preferred.
  • Demonstrated experience and sound understanding of STI – including the application of science, research and development to business and commercial activities
  • A strong science background together with a broad knowledge base to support the diverse nature of CAT Science, Technology and Innovation activities
  • Knowledge of data science and ground and remote sensors use in agriculture
  • Excellent organizational skills and ability to establish and maintain strategic partnerships
  • Strong interpersonal skills, self-motivated, and results-driven, with a proactive approach to work
  • Highly developed conceptual, analytical, and innovative problem-solving ability
  • Good command of English, spoken and written. Command of Chichewa (spoken and written) is not required but will improve candidate suitability.


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