Africa’s food systems need to be reimagined – CALA forum to chart ways forward

Food and agriculture leaders from across Africa are gathered in Rwanda today to advance action for food systems transformation on the continent. The two-day forum themed Collaborative Leadership: Advancing African Food Systems, is organised by the Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA), an AGRA-led initiative, and will see over 200 of Africa’s leading and emerging agriculture leaders convene for a series of workshops, panel discussions and networking sessions designed to provoke collaborative action towards the most pressing food system issues facing the continent today.

The forum is the first in-person gathering of CALA’s participants in the Centre’s young history. The second cohort of 80 food systems leaders will be unveiled officially. During the event the delegates will issue a call to action for greater collaboration among sector leaders on advancing African food systems.

Among the key speakers were H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn, AGRA Board Chair and former Prime Minister for Ethiopia, and Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA.

“Realising the collective expertise and energy of these distinguished leaders from AGRA’s Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture gathered here today, this is really our moment to seize to work together towards deeper integration of our food systems, and to take critical steps towards achieving zero hunger”, said H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn.

Selected from over 1,000 applicants, the 80 new CALA delegates represent the continent’s most dynamic leaders in agriculture, with 45% of them drawn from government agencies across the eight countries, 26% from the private sector and 29% from civil society.

“These illustrious CALA cohorts of 160 leaders from eight countries have distinguished themselves in delivering on food systems transformation priorities across government, private sector and civil society. In the aftermath of COVID-19, we have a unique opportunity to re-imagine and build more resilient food systems. We look forward to the rest of this decade of action working with you all to meet our sector priorities with the eight harvests we now have left,” said Dr. Kalibata.

Designed for rising stars and established executives from across Africa’s agriculture sector in government, the private sector and civil society, CALA’s Advanced Leadership Programme is the continent’s premier leadership programme tailored to support leaders to advance sustainable agriculture sector priorities. The highly competitive programme is a 16-month learning journey that emphasises collaborative and practical experience and is focused on advancing leaders’ professional skills as they contribute to delivery of flagship programmes on food systems transformation.

An AGRA-led initiative, CALA is delivered in collaboration with implementing partners, including the African Management Institute (AMI), CALA’s lead implementation and learning partner, and USAID’s Policy LINK. Policy LINK has led the design and rollout of the leadership programme’s coaching component.

“As a leader, being a catalyst for change and transformation is difficult work, even for the most seasoned professional. AMI’s leadership learning journey within CALA’s programmes, focuses on enhancing leaders’ collaborative leadership styles and providing practical, hands-on learning experiences for senior and emerging African leaders in agriculture,” said Rebecca Harrison, CEO and Co-Founder of AMI.

“This in-person event is a milestone for the CALA program and the committed leaders at its core,” said Policy LINK Chief of Party Steve Smith. “As we forge new connections in Rwanda over the next two days, may they also strengthen our common cause — transforming food systems for the benefit of the entire region and its people.”

The two-day leadership forum comes at a time when the world is facing a crippling food crisis with countries in Africa among the most affected. It is focused on enabling leaders to deliver on their commitments to food security by emphasising the role of collaboration and adaptive leadership in advancing Africa’s food systems.

To learn more about the Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture, visit

Contact: Rebecca Weaver, Acting Head of Communications – AGRA [email protected]

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The Centre’s Advanced Leadership programme, a 16-month highly selective and collaborative learning journey, is designed for senior leaders and rising stars spearheading country level priorities across government, private sector, and civil society. Each cohort comprises of leaders from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA) is made possible with the friendly support of:

German Cooperation