Press release: 18 food systems leaders from Malawi and Tanzania graduate from the Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA)’s Advanced Leadership Programme

Delegates graduate from prestigious leadership programme targeting change makers from government, civil society and private sector 

LILONGWE, January 24, 2023 – Eighteen food systems leaders from Malawi and Tanzania have graduated from an advanced leadership programme by the AGRA-led Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA) in Lilongwe, Malawi.

This is the culmination of a 16-month training designed to equip them with practical leadership skills for effective implementation of national agriculture programmes prioritised in their respective countries. Certificates in food security and sustainability were awarded to those completing the programme.

It brings to 80 the number of food systems leaders who have graduated from the programme’s inaugural cohort, drawn from eight countries – Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Ghana and Nigeria.

During the graduation ceremony held at Bingu Wa Mutharika International Convention Centre, delegates presented preliminary results of their action learning projects, a unique aspect of CALA’s Advanced Leadership Programme. In Tanzania, this includes reducing poultry mortality rates by promoting cluster production systems and enhancing small-holder sesame farmers’ access to formal market channels in the southern part of the country. Malawi delegates have been working on facilitating the creation of structured markets in the honey value chain and improving the legume value chain through an assessment of the Legumes Platform operations.

While presiding over the ceremony, Dr. Rodwell Mzonde, Director of Planning for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in Malawi, urged the graduands to apply what they have learned and mentor other food systems champions. During the ceremony, the graduates presented the results of their Action Learning Projects, a unique aspect of CALA’s leadership training program.

AGRA’s President, Dr Agnes Kalibata said that through the programme, CALA is building a critical mass of African leaders who are committed to cross-sector collaboration and innovation in food systems.

“CALA actively provides that practical space for peer learning, exchange and networks and we hope this scales and influences change for the agriculture sector. It is laudable how you have brought together your energies from government, private sector and civil society to implement solutions on various food systems focus areas.” Dr. Kalibata added, noting that CALA is supporting African leaders to increase cross-sector collaboration and innovation in food systems.

This is the third and final of three regional graduation ceremonies for CALA’s inaugural cohort that started in 2021.  The first graduation ceremony for 17 delegates from Ghana and Nigeria was held on November 30, 2022, in Accra, Ghana. The second graduation ceremony for 32 delegates from Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Uganda was held on December 7th, 2022, in Nairobi, Kenya.

The graduates join a growing continent-wide network of leaders who are driving efforts to achieve national food security goals. The inaugural cohort of 67 included executive-level leaders and rising stars who are delivering key national agriculture programmes. They were selected from over 1,000 applicants, out of which 45% were drawn from government agencies across the eight countries, 26%  from the private sector, and 29% from civil society.

The delegates attended virtual and in-person training events to hone their leadership skills. They participated in learning projects, received on-the-job coaching, and attended high-profile networking events, such as the AGRF. The programme places special emphasis on honing leadership skills that advance environmentally sustainable practices in agriculture, such as agro-ecology and the management of environmental social systems.

For more on CALA’s Advanced Leadership Programme, see:

# End #

For media interviews and enquiries:

Jean Kiarie, Head of Communications, AGRA

Email: [email protected]

About CALA

CALA was launched in August 2021, as an AGRA-led initiative, to provide practical training for African leaders in the agriculture sector. The initiative seeks to catalyse collective action on food systems as an avenue for transformation of national and regional agriculture priorities. The Centre’s programmes are delivered in collaboration with implementing partners, including the African Management Institute (AMI), CALA’s lead implementing partner, and USAID’s Policy LINK. Policy LINK has led the design and rollout of the leadership programme’s coaching component. CALA is also supported with funding from the German Development Cooperation, through KfW Development Bank.

 About AGRA

Founded in 2006, AGRA, is an African-led African-based organization that seeks to catalyse Agriculture Transformation in Africa. AGRA is focused on putting smallholder farmers at the centre of the continent’s growing economy by transforming agriculture from a solitary struggle to survive into farming as a business that thrives. As the sector that employs the majority of Africa’s people, nearly all of them small-scale farmers, AGRA recognizes that developing smallholder agriculture into a productive, efficient, and sustainable system is essential to ensuring food security, lifting millions out of poverty, and driving equitable growth across the continent.

About the African Management Institute (AMI)

AMI enables ambitious businesses and leaders across Africa to thrive, through practical tools and training. We equip leaders with tools to build their business, help companies train their teams and run work readiness programmes for young people starting their careers. AMI’s programmes combine online and mobile tools with in-person workshops and on-the-job practice and support. AMI has trained over 42,000 people in over 39 countries and has offices in Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa, with additional presence in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, and Cote’ d’Ivoire.

About Policy LINK

Policy LINK is a global Feed the Future program that strengthens the leadership capacity of public, private, and civil society actors and fosters collective action among them for better policy systems. Feed the Future is America’s global hunger and food security initiative, led by USAID.

Related posts

AGRA Announces Open of CALA’s Advanced Leadership Programme Fourth Cohort Applications

AGRA Announces Open of CALA’s Advanced Leadership Programme Fourth Cohort Applications

15th May 2024


AGRA has announced the opening of applications for the third cohort of the Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA)’s Advanced Leadership Programme, designed for rising stars(upcoming technical leaders) and established executives from across Africa’s agriculture sector in government, the private sector, and civil society.

The Advanced Leadership programme is the continent’s premier leadership programme, tailored to support developing leaders in advancing agriculture transformation across the continent through the improved capacity to lead the implementation of country agriculture flagship programmes and national agriculture priority programmes.

Alumni Spotlight: Leading the Charge for Sustainable Agriculture in Africa

Alumni Spotlight: Leading the Charge for Sustainable Agriculture in Africa

24th October 2023


“Knowledge empowers leaders. It’s the catalyst for change,” says Peter Juma Lugendo, an alumnus of the Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA) and the President and Chief Operating Officer at Kickstart. Peter’s journey through agriculture is a testament to what can be achieved when visionary leaders are armed with knowledge and driven by a profound purpose.

Through his training, Peter gained a deeper understanding of collaborative leadership and the art of setting SMART goals. These newfound skills supported his goal to create a nurturing environment at Kickstart, where team members thrive and perform effectively.

Alumni Spotlight: Promoting Sustainable Food Systems in Uganda- A World Food Day Special Edition

Alumni Spotlight: Promoting Sustainable Food Systems in Uganda- A World Food Day Special Edition

16th October 2023


In the Pearl of Africa, a determined alumna of the Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA), Rachel Ajambo, is on a mission to revolutionize food systems and combat global hunger. As the world is celebrating World Food Day with the theme “Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind,” Rachel’s story serves as a testament to the power of education, collaboration, and commitment.

Rachel’s journey with CALA broadened her perspective on value chain development and food system transformation. With newfound knowledge, she delved into the complexities of managing water for production, a topic deeply connected to this year’s World Food Day theme.

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

German Cooperation