By Anthony Muchoki
He is humble yet carries a professional pedigree that reverberates in global climate change and agricultural leadership corridors. Meet Mr. Amath Pathé Sene, the Managing Director of Africa Food Systems Forum (AGRF), headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda.
In his own words, AGRF’s work reflects a vision that he deeply cares about fostering sustainable agriculture and food systems to address the challenges of climate change, food insecurity, and malnutrition while creating jobs for millions of youths across Africa.
Hailing from the storied Groundnut Basin in Senegal, Mr. Sene’s roots are deeply intertwined with the soil that bore him. Senegal’s verdant landscapes and agricultural heritage laid the foundation for his unyielding ardor for the agricultural sector.
One can discern his enduring connection with the rural heartland as he reminisces about his formative years. The rhythm of life, oscillating between the urban epicenter and the pastoral hinterlands, engendered in him a profound understanding of the challenges faced by the communities dwelling in the remote corners of his homeland.
The Groundnut Basin is etched into the essence of his being, he posits, his eyes betraying a sense of nostalgia. “The allure of its fertile lands, teeming with the promise of sustenance, was simply incredible.” Yet, even as a young lad, he harboured an unyielding ambition to bring about change, to elevate the living standards of those residing in these rural enclaves.
“Anyone who knows Senegal knows the ground. So, I’ve been going there since my childhood, back and forth from the city to the rural area. From a very young age, I was connected to the rural area, but I also had this passion for seeing things changing and improving the lives of those communities in rural areas.”
Driven by an innate desire to enact positive change, Sene pursued a career in agricultural engineering with a resolute purpose. “This has pushed me first to become an agricultural engineer, so it’s not by accident. I also decided to work on agricultural development, rebuilding agricultural economies in countries affected by conflict,” he explained, underlining his commitment to making a tangible impact in regions grappling with the aftermath of conflict.
Sene’s journey has extended far beyond the borders of his homeland. His international career took flight in Afghanistan, where he dedicated himself to sowing the seeds of hope and renewal amidst challenging circumstances.
However, like a migratory bird drawn back to its homeland, Sene’s heart beckoned him to Africa, where he knew he could make an even more significant impact. Today, he stands with a profound sense of belonging, deeply connected to his African identity.
Sene firmly believes that Africa possesses the potential not only to feed the world but also to create substantial opportunities for its youth and women. “I feel as an African, I am part of the solution. We should push this agenda at the global level, at the country level and the regional level, but also bring the best of Africa to the forefront,” he declared with unwavering determination.
As the steward of the Africa Food Systems Forum (AGRF), Sene shoulders a monumental task. With the 13th summit on the horizon, this year’s gathering holds unprecedented significance. Assembled in Tanzania, a country with grand ambitions of ascending to the forefront of the global food supply chain, the AGRF stands poised to chart a transformative course for African food systems.
Since its inception in 2010, the AGRF has emerged as a beacon of hope, uniting diverse stakeholders worldwide. Throughout 12 annual summits, the platform has witnessed the convergence of over 50,000 participants hailing from Africa, Europe, America, South America and Asia. With each year, the AGRF has deepened its commitment to catalyzing progress, embracing a vision that transcends borders and fosters regional collaboration.
As the focal point for dialogue, innovation, and partnership, the AGRF has played a pivotal role in propelling Africa’s agricultural agenda on the global stage. It has become a platform where policymakers, entrepreneurs, researchers, and farmers converge to share knowledge, expertise, and best practices. From the Nile’s banks to the Serengeti plains, the AGRF has left an indelible mark on the African continent, galvanizing communities and empowering them to realize their potential and create a sustainable, inclusive food future.
With the 13th summit fast approaching, the excitement and anticipation are palpable. With its lofty aspirations of ascending to the apex of the world food global supply chain, this year’s host country lends a sense of purpose and urgency to the proceedings. As the crème de la crème of African agriculture gathers, expectations are high, and the stage is set for groundbreaking commitments that will shape the continent’s destiny.
As the vanguard of the AGRF 2023, Sene possesses an acute understanding of the profound significance of this momentous occasion. With unwavering confidence, he proclaims, “The AGRF summit in Dar es Salaam is not just another event; it is a pivotal juncture that holds the potential to reshape the trajectory of African agriculture. We stand on the cusp of transformative change, and I am certain that together, we will propel Africa’s food systems towards a future of resilience, sustainability, and prosperity.”
As the countdown to the summit begins, the world watches with bated breath. Will the Africa Food Systems Forum bring about collective action—a force that can shape not only the fate of African food systems, but also inspire global change? Time will soon tell.
Sene is a visionary leader deeply committed to transforming Africa’s agricultural landscape and promoting sustainable development. With a rich background in international development, he has made significant contributions to food security, climate resilience, and poverty alleviation across the continent.
Sene is at the forefront of driving transformative change in the agricultural sector. In this pivotal role, based in Kigali, Rwanda, he leads the world’s premier platform for advancing agriculture in Africa. Through strategic partnerships and innovative solutions, he empowers stakeholders to collaboratively address the pressing challenges faced by the continent’s food systems to ensure resilience and prosperity for future generations.
Amath’s extensive tenure at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) showcases his dedication to fostering sustainable agricultural practices. As the Director a.i of the Sub-regional Office for Coastal Countries, West and Central Africa, he brought visionary leadership to development projects, amplifying the impact of IFAD’s initiatives in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Before that, during his four-year tenure as the Lead Regional Environment and Climate Specialist for the same region, he demonstrated his keen ability to integrate environmental considerations into agricultural strategies and enhance climate resilience for vulnerable communities. His invaluable technical expertise and strategic insight were instrumental in shaping policies and programs promoting sustainable practices and effectively empowering local communities to adapt to climate change challenges.
In addition to his regional contributions, Amath has also left a mark on the global stage during his time at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). As a Policy Specialist, Poverty-Environment, based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he played a crucial role in designing and implementing policies that addressed the intersection of poverty and environmental degradation, creating lasting positive impacts on vulnerable populations.
With an illustrious career spanning several continents, Sene’s dedication to sustainable development is commendable. As the Regional Program Advisor & Manager, Poverty-Environment, at UNDP in Nairobi Area, Kenya, he championed comprehensive programs that fostered socioeconomic progress while preserving Africa’s precious natural resources.
A sought-after expert and influential thought leader, Sene’s work has significantly shaped sustainable agriculture, environmental protection, and poverty reduction discourse. His visionary leadership and dedication to creating positive change have earned him recognition and respect at both national and international levels.