AGRA Ushers in a New Era of Leadership and Strategic Direction in African Agriculture Team

Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA, in an announcement, has set the stage for a transformative phase in African agriculture. This strategic shift, first unveiled at the Africa Food Systems Forum in September 2022, is now taking shape with a series of high-profile appointments and a redefined strategic focus, as detailed in a recent communication to AGRA partners. AGRA, under Dr. Kalibata’s leadership, has been at the forefront of advocating and implementing innovative solutions to enhance agricultural productivity and food security in Africa. This latest development signals a significant pivot in AGRA’s approach, aligning with evolving challenges and opportunities in the African agricultural sector.

Strategic Refresh: Dual-Themed Approach

AGRA, under Dr. Kalibata’s stewardship, has consistently championed innovative solutions to enhance agricultural productivity and food security in Africa. The latest development focuses on two key areas:

  1. Enhancing Country Implementation Capacity:
    • Central to AGRA’s strategy is strengthening country-level implementation. Prof. Boga Hamadi, the newly appointed Vice President for Program Delivery, is set to play a critical role. His impressive track record in Kenya’s Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) positions him to significantly advance the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and boost youth employment in agriculture.
  2. Bolstering AGRA’s Technical Capacities:
    • To address market failures and capacity gaps, Jonathan Said joins AGRA to enhance its analytical and advisory prowess. His vast experience in institutional capacity building and a vision for food systems-led industrial development make him a valuable asset to AGRA’s mission.
    • Thule Lenneiye, appointed as Chief of Staff, brings her extensive experience in advising on agriculture and agribusiness investment in Eastern and Southern Africa, further strengthening AGRA’s capabilities.

Leadership Appointments: Country Directors

The strategic realignment at AGRA includes appointing new Country Directors, ensuring localized leadership and expertise:

  • Burkina Faso: Mr. Jules Some
  • Nigeria: Mr. Rufus Idris
  • Ghana: Dr. Betty Annan
  • Rwanda: Mr. Jean Paul Ndagijimana
  • Tanzania: Mr. Vianey Rweyendela
  • Mali: Mr. Bocar Amadou
  • Kenya: Mr. John Macharia
  • Uganda: Mr. David Wozemba
  • Ethiopia: Dr. Yihenew Zewdi
  • Mozambique: Mr. Stefano Gasparini

These leaders are integral in aligning AGRA’s efforts with its strategic objectives and catalyzing interventions at the country level.

AGRA’s Vision Moving Forward

This new era in AGRA’s journey emphasizes a deepened commitment to catalyzing food system transformation across Africa. The leadership changes and strategic focus are not merely structural adjustments but a revitalization of AGRA’s core mission, aligning with the broader goals of sustainable development and prosperity in Africa.

Dr. Kalibata’s letter to partners underscores AGRA’s dedication to collaborative and sustainable approaches. The organization is poised to continue forging partnerships and collective efforts, aiming to transform Africa’s agricultural sector into a dynamic, responsive, and impactful force.

AGRA’s Strategic Leadership: Pioneers Transforming African Agriculture

Prof. Dr. Hamadi Iddi Boga – Vice President, Programs Delivery

“From Academic Excellence to Agricultural Revolution”

Prof. Dr. Hamadi Iddi Boga’s journey from the classrooms of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology to the forefront of African agricultural transformation is a testament to his relentless pursuit of excellence. Born in Kwale, Kenya, and a family man devoted to his wife Amina and their three daughters, Prof. Boga’s career is a blend of academic rigor and practical policy implementation. His tenure as the Principal Secretary in Kenya’s State Department of Crop Development and Agricultural Research saw the birth of the transformative ASTGS, a blueprint for Kenya’s agricultural renaissance. His academic contributions at JKUAT and Taita Taveta University, coupled with his extensive international collaborations, have positioned him as a global thought leader in agriculture. Prof. Boga’s role in AGRA is not just a job; it’s the culmination of a lifetime dedicated to agricultural excellence.

Jonathan Said – Vice President, Centre of Technical Expertise

“A Global Economist’s Vision for African Agricultural Prosperity”

Jonathan Said’s story is one of a global economist’s dedication to the African continent’s agricultural and economic transformation. Born in Malta and married to an American with a family of four children, Jonathan’s journey is as international as his vision. With over two decades of experience, including embedded roles in the governments of Guyana, Malawi, and Liberia, his expertise in agriculture, agro-processing, and government-private sector collaboration is unmatched. His leadership in various sectors at the Tony Blair Institute and his recent freelance consulting roles demonstrate his commitment to shaping Africa’s economic future. Jonathan’s extensive travel across Africa, visiting 27 countries, reflects his deep connection and understanding of the continent he is so passionate about transforming.

Thule Lenneiye – Chief of Staff

“Digitalizing Agriculture: Thule Lenneiye’s Mission to Modernize African Farming”

Thule Lenneiye represents the new age of African agricultural leaders, combining expertise in food systems, climate action, and digital transformation. Her work in advising on agricultural and agribusiness investment in Eastern and Southern Africa has been pivotal in guiding national governments towards progressive agricultural policies. As the Coordinator of the Agriculture Transformation Office in Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Thule played a crucial role in integrating digital innovations into the agricultural sector, enhancing service delivery and economic opportunities. Her tenure as a managing partner at Acility Africa further showcases her acumen in ICT strategy and government relations, making her an invaluable asset to AGRA’s mission.

Vianey Rweyendela – AGRA Country Director, Tanzania

Vianey Rweyendela: A Visionary Leader in Agricultural Transformation

Vianey Rweyendela stands out as more than an agricultural economist; he is a visionary architect reshaping the agricultural sector. With over two decades of rich experience, Vianey has become a pivotal force in East Africa’s agri-food systems, adeptly bridging the gap between governments, the private sector, and development partners to spearhead regional agricultural progress.

“Vianey Rweyendela: Championing Tanzania’s Agricultural Transformation”

Envision a leader who converses in the dialects of both the marketplace and the grassroots farmer with equal adeptness. This is Vianey. His journey across diverse African landscapes like Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, and South Africa has seen him demystifying the intricacies of rural economies. He is known for his acumen in dissecting value chains, deciphering the enigmas of the market, and creating essential connections that fortify the agricultural framework.

However, Vianey’s role transcends mere analysis; he is a builder and a strategist. Over the last ten years, he has been the linchpin in AGRA’s endeavors in Tanzania, channeling resources and cultivating partnerships essential for catalyzing agricultural metamorphosis. He stands as the crucial link uniting governmental objectives, private sector ingenuity, and the support of donors to devise strategies that not only empower farmers but also rejuvenate entire communities.

Vianey’s influence extends across borders, marked by his meticulous approach to data analysis, market studies, and leading perception surveys. His proficiency in monitoring and evaluation (M&E) guarantees that these initiatives yield sustainable and meaningful outcomes. His involvement in rural enterprise development further showcases his commitment to steering both agricultural and non-agricultural entities towards market-oriented triumphs.

His skill in transforming data into pragmatic strategies has been pivotal in developing comprehensive M&E systems for projects under the aegis of international bodies like DFID and USAID. These endeavors have catalyzed transformative shifts in agriculture, health, and education sectors across Africa, underlining his significant role in the continent’s development narrative.

Vianey Rweyendela is not merely a professional in his field; he is an advocate and a forerunner for food security and rural prosperity. His ascension through various roles at AGRA, culminating in his leadership as Country Director, is a clear reflection of his steadfast dedication to fostering a prosperous future for East Africa. His journey is a narrative of dedication and impact, sowing seeds of progress and harvesting a legacy of agricultural excellence and community wellbeing.

Betty Simawua Annan – Country Director, Ghana

“Betty Annan: Weaving the West African Agricultural Tapestry”

Betty Simawua Annan’s 15-year journey in West African agriculture is a story of dedication and impact. Her roles with Fairtrade Africa and Care International, among others, have given her an in-depth understanding of agricultural value chains and agribusiness development. Betty’s expertise lies in her ability to navigate the complex interplay of natural resource management and policy analysis, making her a key figure in Ghana’s agricultural sector. Her network of contacts and her grasp of the sector’s nuances make her an ideal leader to steer AGRA’s initiatives in Ghana towards sustainable success.

David Wozemba – Country Director, Uganda

“David Wozemba: Cultivating Prosperity in Ugandan Agriculture”

With over two decades of experience in development and private organizations, David Wozemba’s contribution to Ugandan agriculture is profound. His work has spanned across East, West, and Southern Africa, focusing on building the capacity of agribusinesses and public institutions. David’s influence in developing legume seed systems and the Uganda Grain Policy showcases his ability to impact policy and practice at a national level. His role in AGRA is a continuation of his commitment to transforming Uganda’s agricultural landscape, ensuring prosperity and sustainability for farmers and the nation.

Yihenew Zewdie – Country Director, Ethiopia

“Yihenew Zewdie: A Beacon of Knowledge and Development in Ethiopia”

Yihenew Zewdie’s two decades of experience in international research and development organizations have made him a key figure in Ethiopian agriculture. His focus on development program monitoring, knowledge management, and policy brokering, particularly in resilience building and food security, highlights his comprehensive approach to agricultural challenges. Yihenew’s tenure at the International Livestock Research Institute in Ethiopia underscores his commitment to scientific and practical solutions for the nation’s agricultural sector.

Rufus Idris – Country Director, Nigeria

“Rufus Idris: Championing Agricultural Transformation in Nigeria”

Rufus Idris’s more than two decades of experience in supporting smallholder farmers and leading anti-poverty initiatives have made him a cornerstone of Nigeria’s agricultural sector. His leadership at Heifer International in Nigeria and previous roles in USAID projects reflect his deep commitment to addressing food insecurity and creating economic opportunities. Rufus’s vision for Nigeria is one where agriculture is not just a means of subsistence but a pathway to prosperity and innovation.

Bocar Ahamadou – Country Director, Mali

“Bocar Ahamadou: Shaping Mali’s Agricultural Future”

Bocar Ahamadou’s extensive 28-year career in West African agriculture has been marked by impactful roles in various organizations. His recent position as the Director of research at IPR/IFRA de Katibougou in Mali highlights his strategic and leadership skills. Bocar’s strong understanding of agricultural value chains, technical knowledge, and passion for youth and women empowerment position him as a key driver in Mali’s agricultural transformation under AGRA’s banner.

Stefano Gasparini – Country Director, Mozambique

“Stefano Gasparini: Nurturing Agribusiness Innovation in Mozambique”

With a 30-year career in international development and private sector agribusiness, Stefano Gasparini’s impact on Mozambique’s agricultural sector is indelible. His leadership in iDE Mozambique and his expertise in managing development programs and private investments have been crucial in promoting sustainable growth in the region. Stefano’s deep understanding of Sub-Saharan Africa’s challenges and opportunities makes him an essential leader in driving Mozambique’s agricultural progress.

Jules Some – Country Director, Burkina Faso

“Jules Some: A Visionary Leader for Burkina Faso’s Agricultural Renaissance”

Jules Some’s extensive experience in agricultural development, including his advisory role at the Tony Blair Institute and project management at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, has equipped him with a unique perspective on Burkina Faso’s agricultural sector. His work in transforming Rwanda’s horticulture sector and his comprehensive review of agriculture in Burkina Faso and Mali for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation demonstrate his strategic and analytical capabilities. Jules’s leadership in AGRA is set to usher in a new era of agricultural development in Burkina Faso.

Jean Paul (JP) Ndagijimana – Country Director, Rwanda

“Jean Paul Ndagijimana: Steering Rwanda’s Agricultural Destiny”

Jean Paul (JP) Ndagijimana’s extensive experience in both the corporate and development sectors, including roles with KPMG and World Relief, has shaped him into a versatile leader in Rwanda’s agricultural sector. His expertise in government support, as evidenced by his work on privatization projects for the Rwandan government, and his transformative work in agriculture with the Clinton Foundation, positions him as a pivotal figure in Rwanda’s journey towards market-oriented farming and agricultural prosperity.

John Macharia – Country Director, Kenya

“John Macharia: Cultivating Change in Kenyan Agriculture”

John Macharia’s passion for transforming African agriculture and food systems is evident in his 19-year career with international NGOs across Sub-Saharan Africa. His focus on value chain development, private sector engagement, and policy dialogue has made him a prominent figure in Kenya’s agricultural sector. As an Acumen-Rockefeller Food Systems Fellow and a recipient of the Doreen Mashler award, John’s expertise and dedication to sustainable agriculture and ecosystem services are driving Kenya towards a brighter agricultural future under AGRA.

Each of these leaders represents a unique story of commitment, expertise, and vision, collectively driving AGRA’s mission of transforming agriculture across Africa. Their diverse backgrounds and accomplishments illustrate the multifaceted approach required to address the complex challenges of African agriculture toda