The much-awaited inaugural Rwanda Transform Food Festival took place in Kigali on Friday, June 23, 2023. It brought together food systems leaders working in different sectors to share ideas and collaborate on strategies for delivering a healthier, more inclusive, and sustainable food system for the country.
The exclusive high-level event hosted by the African Food Fellowship was attended by food systems innovators, entrepreneurs, practitioners, and decision-makers working across government, private sector, civil society, and community groups. They engaged in discussions on how to work together to address existing and emerging issues in Rwanda’s food systems.
Speaking at the event, Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) Dr. Olivier Kamana hailed the Rwanda Transform Food Festival for raising the profile of key issues that need the most attention by food system actors as the country takes stock of its the agriculture sector.
“These are actors who have expertise in different fields in the food system who we believe can contribute a lot in the ongoing process of designing the next phase of the Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA5). We see them as key stakeholders who will make important additions to our strategy,” he said.
Participants engaged in day-long discussions around the impact areas of sustainable land use, food tech and trade, and access to nutritious foods. The Fellowship is working to build the capacity of leaders in Rwanda to shift the power, policies, incentives, and investments that shape these sectors in order to bring about food systems transformation in the country. The African Food Fellowship has so far on-boarded two cohorts of Fellows in and is in the process of recruiting its third cohort.
The Rwanda Transform Food Festival serves as an opportunity to expand the conversation to include actors beyond the Fellowship to forge collaborations that expedite achievement of desired transformation of the country’s food system.
“We really wanted these actors to come together and discuss issues that are emerging in Rwanda’s food system, and start thinking about how we can work together to solve them. At the same time, we want to celebrate Fellows for the incredible work that they are doing to transform Rwanda’s food system,” said Anysie Ishimwe, Rwanda Dean and Country Implementation Lead.
The festival culminated in the Rwanda Food Systems Leadership Award, which honours an outstanding Fellow whose work demonstrates the impact, sustainability, and scale necessary to bring about true food systems transformation. Sylvie Nirere, a Food Tech & Trade Fellow was crowned the winner for her work in helping thousands of horticulture farmers in Rwanda to access international markets in Europe and Middle East, therefore building a critical mass of topline exporters.
African Food Fellowship Regional Manager, Claudia Piacenza said the Rwanda Transform Food Festival is a key ingredient of the Country Food Fellowship as it creates yet another opportunity for Fellows to come together, spend time with each other and foster a sense of belonging, which make it possible to work on complex food system issues that require collective action.
“As we start seeing Fellows exchanging lessons and exploring opportunities to collaborate, we know we are on the right track. We hope that guests will walkaway understanding that fellows are rounded thought leaders, that they are experts in their fields and are able to look at the food system in a complex way,” she said.