Dr. Agnes Kalibata, the charismatic president of AGRA, addressed a select audience of leaders and visionaries at the CALA Leadership Forum held in conjunction with AGRF Summit. With a fervor that reflected her conviction for African agriculture, she outlined the pressing need to bridge existing gaps and cultivate a new generation of leaders to usher in a vibrant era for African agriculture.
The Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA), an initiative spearheaded by Agra, aims to be the crucible where the future of African agriculture is forged. According to Dr. Kalibata, while Africa is blessed with a young demographic, there’s a pronounced disconnect between the youthful potential and the age-old agricultural practices currently in place. “The soul of our food and a critical element of reducing poverty in our continent,” as she describes agriculture, seems to be fading in its allure for the younger generation.
However, it’s not just about introducing the youth to farming. Dr. Kalibata emphasized the need for leadership in agriculture and for finding leaders committed to transforming African agriculture. She detailed how CALA alumni, across its first, second, and the upcoming third cohort beginning this August, have been collaborating, breaking silos, and approaching agricultural challenges with a renewed zest and a collective spirit.
The magic of CALA lies in its ability to create connections. By bringing together leaders from various sectors – government, private, and civil society – CALA is facilitating rich dialogues and fostering collaborations that were previously non-existent. Dr. Kalibata poignantly noted that many from the same country, working towards the same goals, had never conversed before joining CALA.
In the corridors of CALA, connections translate to power – not one that is wielded over others but one that is garnered from knowledge and shared experiences. “Support and help are not about money; it’s about knowledge and information. Anybody who has more information than you has more power than you,” Dr. Kalibata passionately expressed.
With a deep sense of gratitude, Dr. Kalibata acknowledged the partners that have breathed life into the vision of CALA, including the German government, the Rockefeller Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Mastercard Foundation. Their collective belief in CALA’s potential has been the backbone of the program, empowering cohorts of young leaders to rewrite the narrative of African agriculture.