Winrock Gets $45M for USDA Projects in Malawi, Thailand


Winrock Gets $45M for USDA Projects in Malawi, Thailand
Rows of bok choy growing at a small organic farm in Thailand (Shutterstock)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded North Little Rock-based Winrock International $45 million to implement two “climate-smart” projects aimed at helping developing countries and emerging democracies modernize and strengthen their agricultural sectors.

In Malawi, Winrock will work to address food insecurity by boosting production and profitability for 35,000 farms by implementing sustainable and scalable agricultural practices, the nonprofit said in a news release. The project will use a “farmer-first approach” grounded in market incentives. The nonprofits Total LandCare LLC and Innovations for Poverty Action are partners on the project.

In Thailand, Winrock plans to expand adoption of climate-smart production practices by 30,000 farmers through the creation of a regional knowledge hub, according to the release. The project aims to identify, validate, scale, and share climate-smart technologies and practices that increase productivity, profitability, and trade opportunities while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and natural resource depletion.  

Aaron Sundsmo, Winrock’s senior director of agriculture, resilience and water, said the organization will be “rigorously testing and refining our approach” throughout implementation of the projects. Michigan State University is a research partner. 

“We’ll ensure that our projects are not only having the desired positive impacts, but that the benefits are spread equitably and inclusively amongst all of the communities that we are serving,” Sundsmo said in the release.

The projects are among seven funded by $178 million in grants under the USDA’s Food for Progress initiative. 

Winrock has led four previous projects under Food for Progress. In 2016, the nonprofit led an effort to increase shrimp and prawn production and improve post-harvest processing in Bangladesh. The same year, a project in Pakistan sought to increase production of tomatoes, red chili, bananas and dates, and improve market access through cold storage.

Winrock led a Food for Progress project in 2017 to increase production and reduce post-harvest losses of clean horticulture in Laos. In 2019, it promoted adoption of sanitary measures in the Philippines to ensure plants and plants products meet international trade requirements.

Winrock also announced last week that it’s partnering with Riceland Foods Inc. of Stuttgart for a project that aims to help farmers adopt climate-smart practices and interact with commodity buyers in climate-smart markets. The project received $20 million in funds from the USDA’s  Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program.


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