40 food systems leaders from across East Africa have graduated from the AGRA-led Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture’s (CALA) Advanced Leadership Programme in Nairobi.
They got certificates in the Advanced Leadership Programme for Africa’s Food Security and Sustainability after completing a 16-month training on practical leadership skills.
The leaders from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia were trained on skills for effective implementation of national agriculture programmes prioritised in their respective countries.
This was the second of three regional graduation events slated for CALA’s inaugural cohort of 80 delegates who were competitively selected from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Ghana and Nigeria for the 16-month programme last year.
The initial graduation ceremony for 20 delegates from Ghana and Nigeria was held on November 30, 2022 in Accra, Ghana and was presided over by Dr Solomon Gyan Ansah, Director of Crops Services in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
20 delegates from Tanzania and Malawi are set to be feted in Malawi in January 2023 with Dr Ansah noting the CALA programme’s sensitivity to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
“I am delighted by the delegates’ deployment of environmentally friendly practices, tools and techniques to solve for food systems challenges,” Dr Ansah said
The East African graduation was presided over by Philip Harsama, Principal Secretary in the State Department for Crop Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.
Harsama lauded AGRA for supporting the ministry to achieve its objectives and for heeding to its pledge to support sector leaders in their work to realise food systems transformation.
During the elaborate event, the delegates presented preliminary results of their Action Learning Projects, which is a unique aspect of CALA’s leadership training.
In Kenya this included the use of nutritious pre-cooked “fast food legumes” used in school feeding programmes and an innovative access to finance model for dairy farmers.
Ugandan delegates worked on enhancing protection of fish breeding areas, while in Rwanda they focused on improving production and commercialization of maize.
Projects by Ethiopian delegates focused on gender-responsive climate adaptation and on increasing the country’s self-sufficiency in wheat through flour blends.
Harsama emphasized on CALA’s collaborative spirit which he says brings together government, private sector and civil society to jointly solve food security challenges.
“One of the biggest challenges we face today is moving from decision making to action. Transformation beckons, with many of the technologies, financing mechanisms, practices and policies necessary for change in place. Yet all these require a spark. That spark, which CALA provides, is collaborative leadership. That is the ability to work together in all our diversity as leaders, to solve problems for the good of many,” Harsama said.
AGRA President Dr Agnes Kalibata intimated that 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 nited.
The first class of 80 graduates included executive-level leaders with more than 15 years of experience, and rising stars – mainly those with more than 10 years of experience in delivery of key national agriculture programmes.
The first cohort was picked from over 1,000 applicants - 45 per cent from government agencies, 26 per cent from the private sector and 29 per cent from the civil society, while the second cohort of 80 delegates joined the programme in August 2022.