The inaugural class of the African Food Systems Leadership Programme kicked off on Monday, May 17, 2021, with a virtual launch ceremony in Nairobi and Wageningen University & Research in The Netherlands. The 10-month Fellowship brings together 30 passionate food systems leaders working in aquaculture, horticulture and agri-finance. It targets emerging leaders from the private, public, and civic sectors to shape the ambitions, agendas and market dynamics that are needed to transform Africa’s food systems.
“We are starting in Kenya and will expand to Rwanda at the end of the year. Our goal is to eventually to cover more than 30 countries in Africa,” said Joost Guijt, the director of the African Food Fellowship.
Addressing the Fellows, Ms. Louise O. Fresco, the president of the executive board of Wageningen University & Research, predicted a bright future for Africa.
“Only 4 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa is under irrigation. In China, it’s 40 per cent. There is a great opportunity here for Africa to bring more land under cultivation especially as energy becomes cheaper. We need to adopt systems that are efficient in terms of natural resources like soil and water, but also in terms of labour. And that requires leadership,” she said.
Mr. Martin Kalungu-Banda, a renowned leadership expert and director of Wasafiri, asked the Fellows to seize the opportunity and become thought leaders and changemakers.“The soil is at the heart of the problems facing Africa. If we fix our problems with the soil, we will be on our way to fixing the other challenges we are facing. We cannot copy what is happening in the West and expect to succeed. This Fellowship gives me confidence that we have the right people thinking about these problems,” he said.