Press Release: Moving from rhetoric to action on food systems transformation: Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA) delegates take up the challenge

Dar es Salaam, Wednesday 6th September 2023: Renowned and emerging food systems leaders from Africa convened in Tanzania to explore inclusive strategies to address the most pressing food systems challenges facing the continent today.

The two-day forum, themed Food Systems Leadership in Africa: An Inclusive Approach, was organised by the Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA), an AGRA-led initiative, and brought together over 200 leading and emerging agriculture leaders for a series of workshops, panel discussions and networking sessions designed to catalyse action for inclusive, innovative and sustainable approaches to transform food systems in Africa.

Speaking to the delegates, Dr Agnes Kalibata, AGRA President, underscored the pressing need for immediate action to revolutionize African food systems. She said that the time for mere rhetoric had passed, and it was imperative to pivot towards concrete actions that could spark the crucial transformation. She called on the delegates to seize the moment and be catalysts for impactful change.

“It’s now time to stop talking and having discussions and move into implementing so that we can realize food systems transformation in Africa,” Dr Kalibata said.

Dr Apollos Nwafor, AGRA Vice-President for Policy and State Capability, highlighted Africa’s demographic dividend – a vast youthful population – as an immense growth opportunity. He stressed that fostering inclusion is not only about political decision-making but actively engaging the youth in shaping the continent’s future.

“70% of the African labour force is employed in agriculture. What does this mean for the continent’s growth? Agriculture is a key driver for realising Africa’s GDP ambitions of being the second largest economy by 2063,” said Dr Nwafor.

This year’s fifth edition of the Leadership Forum marked a significant milestone for the third cohort of 40 delegates, attending their inaugural Leadership forum. Selected from 1,700+ applicants, the delegates represent the continent’s most dynamic leaders in agriculture and a continuation of CALA’s mission to support transformation in food systems through improved leadership. The leaders were drawn from the eight participating countries, namely: Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Malawi and Nigeria. The first cohort graduated from the programme in 2022, marking the inception of the first alumni network, with the second cohort slated to graduate in December 2022.

“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 leaders with the requisite skills to effectively be able to lead oneself, others, organisations and food systems transformation” said Rebecca Harrison, CEO and Co-Founder of AMI.

AMI is CALA’s lead implementation and learning partner, guiding the two current cohorts through the highly selective 16-month Advanced Leadership Programme and supporting the inaugural CALA alumni network.

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



[email protected]

 About CALA

The Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA), an AGRA-led initiative, supports sector leaders to deliver on top national priorities in African agriculture and nutrition security. These leaders represent a wide range of key actors from across government, private sector and civil society. CALA was conceptualized by AGRA and is implemented in collaboration with the African Management Institute (AMI) and USAID’s Policy LINK, with funding from the German Development Cooperation through the KfW Development Bank, BMGF and Mastercard Foundation.

For more information visit:

About AGRA

Founded in 2006, AGRA, is an African-led African-based organization that seeks to catalyze 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 recognises 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 directly trained over 35,000 people in over 39 countries. AMI has offices in Nairobi, Kenya, Kigali, Rwanda, and Johannesburg, South Africa.

About Policy LINK

Policy LINK is a global Feed the Future programme 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.



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

German Cooperation