CALA Food Systems Leadership in Africa: Charting the Path for Inclusive Transformation

TANZANIA- The bustling coastal city of Dar es Salaam witnessed a monumental congregation of Africa’s most influential figures in agriculture. Both established and emerging leaders descended upon Tanzania to delineate inclusive strategies that address the continent’s escalating food system challenges.

Organised by the Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA), the two-day symposium, aptly titled ‘Food Systems Leadership in Africa: An Inclusive Approach’, stood as a testament to AGRA’s unwavering commitment to reshape Africa’s food narrative. With over 200 agricultural leaders participating, the event was a melting pot of workshops, panel discussions, and networking sessions, all culminating to forge a path towards innovative and sustainable African food systems.

AGRA President, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, minced no words when she spotlighted the urgency to shift from dialogue to decisive action. “The era of discussions has reached its zenith; the revolution our food systems need beckons concrete actions,” she said. Echoing a sentiment shared by many present, Dr. Kalibata urged the delegates to transition from passive conversation to active transformation.

Harnessing Africa’s Youthful Dividend

Drawing attention to the continent’s vast young demographic, AGRA’s Vice-President for Policy and State Capability, Dr. Apollos Nwafor, emphasized the potential harboured within. Pointing out that a whopping 70% of the African workforce is engrossed in agriculture, he said, “Imagine the ripple effect on our GDP if we fully harness this. We’re staring at the potential of being the world’s second-largest economy by 2063.”

The forum’s fifth iteration was particularly noteworthy for the third cohort of 40 delegates marking their inaugural attendance. Chosen from an overwhelming 1,700 applicants, they represent a diverse tapestry of leadership across eight African nations, reinforcing CALA’s steadfast dedication to nurturing exceptional talent.

The inception of CALA’s first alumni network, following the graduation of the initial cohort in 2022, and the forthcoming graduation of the second cohort in December, only adds to the initiative’s growing success stories.

Rebecca Harrison, the dynamic CEO and Co-Founder of AMI, shared her insights on the complexities of transformative leadership. “Being an agent of change, especially in a domain as pivotal as food systems, demands unyielding tenacity. Through CALA’s programmes, we aim to bolster collaborative leadership approaches, ensuring leaders are equipped with the right tools for effective self, organizational, and sector-wide leadership,” Harrison remarked.

With AMI as CALA’s primary execution and learning ally, the journey for the two ongoing cohorts over the rigorous 16-month Advanced Leadership Programme promises to be transformative. AMI’s support extends to the burgeoning CALA alumni network as well.