Feb 23, 2023 | Blog

Data key for food systems transformation ahead of critical Stocktake moments

By Nixon Mageka Gecheo

Senior Program Officer – Digital Systems & Solutions for Agriculture|AGRA

This year marks the end of the first Global Stocktake, which began in 2021 to monitor the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and evaluate the collective progress made in achieving the agreed goals. The Global Stocktake links the implementation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) with the main goals of the Paris Agreement, with the ultimate goal of raising climate ambition.

For farmers, the months to November, when the inaugural Stocktake concludes, come as a critical opportunity to present the final submissions to the Stocktake’s thematic areas of mitigation, adaptation and implementation, guided by their experience from working on the land.

The participation of farmers, and indeed other stakeholders in food systems, is instrumental in developing the data needed to progress the capacity to respond to change and identify the opportunities for improving resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Indeed, as climate change grows to become the biggest challenge that farmers in Africa and other developing regions have to grapple with, data will continue to increase in value as it provides the platform for the development of policies and infrastructure leading to sectoral transformation.

Marcella McClatchey, the Senior Program Officer for Inclusive Markets at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation properly summed it up at last year’s Africa’s Food Systems Summit (AGRF) in Kigali, Rwanda, when she said, “Data is the new oil”.

The value of data goes beyond Stocktake moments, noting that effective data systems can guide the responses for future events. These data systems, as per a report on Farmer-Centric Data Governance, launched during the AGRF, can be more efficient when designed in ways that build the trust and confidence of farmers. As such, it is instrumental that farmers are placed at the center of data models and programs that are deployed for their benefit. Farmers need education on the value of the data that they produce, and how it can be leveraged to support and improve their output and boost efficient use of their resources.

“We need to move beyond merely giving farmers information to advising on what to do with that information,” said Akintunde Akinwande, OCP Africa’s Head of Digital and Business Development for Nigeria and Middle Africa.

Going forward, and in the run-up to the Global Stocktake, and other similar activities across the year, including the 2023 Africa’s Food Systems Summit in Tanzania, and the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (CoP28) in the UAE, the following should be the priority actions to ensure that Africa’s farmers benefit from emerging data programs, models and systems. These actions emerged from the most recent Africa’s Food Systems convention:

  1. Promotion of shared data aggregation points through digital public infrastructure (DPI) model at country level – “Data being the new oil” also requires “an infrastructure” to exploit. Stakeholders must explore strategies for the development of shared data aggregation points at national level that combine the efforts of multiple stakeholders. It is necessary to explore how these DPI models can be led by governments but managed independently through multi-stakeholder trustee/custodian/steward approach.


  1. The development of user-centric models of data collection, storage and sharing that facilitate a collaborative approach to encourage farmers to participate – This will be driven by structures that allow a two-way flow of data and value to and from farmers. Value added data from the shared data aggregation point(s) must be shared with farmers for decision making, and farmers must be made to understand the value of their data and what benefits accrue from sharing it.

  1. Supporting a vibrant enabling environment, one inclusive of policy, partnership and capacity building, and which mobilizes the leadership needed to empower collective action – This will lead to the design of policies in a user-driven and consultative manner that responds to the needs of the beneficiaries. Targeted training, and capacity building for all stakeholders to promote an aligned and trusted multistakeholder approach to data management are required.
Feb 20, 2023 | Blog

Accelerated national food systems pathways require strong leadership and accountability

Slightly over 16 months ago, African heads of State and 20 ministers presented their national pathways for food systems transformation at the UN Food Systems Summit. The pathways are envisioned as opportunities for the people who work in food systems – across the public and private sector, and civil society – to identify the priorities for the attainment of sustainable and equitable food systems.

In this article, we collate views from leaders in food systems explaining the major limiting factors preventing many countries from advancing their national pathways, the steps taken to spur action by the successful ones, and the strategies for achieving more desirable results. The speakers shared their views at the AGRF, Africa’s Food Systems Forum 2022, in Kigali, Rwanda.

H.E. Lazarus Chakwera, President of Malawi

Following the Food Systems Summit, Malawi undertook a nationwide multi-stakeholder dialogue process to identify policy and implementation gaps and agree on game changing propositions to trigger a structural transformation for the entire food system. As a result, we identified catalysts to lead the transformation of the food systems in Malawi, including policy coherence; infrastructure development like roads, processing and storage facilities; diversification of diets, equitable access and control of productive resources like land and water; changing consumer trends, and the digitization of the agricultural sector. Our focus now is turning these priority aspirations into actions.

Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, Executive Chair of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

The toughest thing about the government… is getting anything done; nothing happens unless you get the whole government mobilized, unless you focus on implementation. The current situation is unacceptable… Africa is a rich continent, with too many poor people, many of them farmers. We know what we have to do, but doing it requires focus, with, attention to detail, and the determination that the job will be done.

Jean Claude Musabyimana, Minister of Local Government, Rwanda

We (Rwanda) are now on the food systems implementation strategy and implementation plan, where we want to define actionable and pragmatic sets of investment areas that will catalyze the food system transformation, and, so far, we have identified six game changing solutions: 1) nutritious food programs; 2) food loss and waste management, 3) inclusive markets and food value chains 4) sustainable and resilient food production systems, 5) inclusive financing and innovative investments, and 6) effective mainstreaming of youth and women in food systems. We have the implementation model, and we have 14 indicative priority programs… we opted not to create new structures but new delivery mechanisms… We have now designed programs to address critical areas raised during the food systems dialogues.

Dr. Apollos Nwafor, Vice President, Policy and State Capability, AGRA

The question is how do we turn national pathways into strategies that have clear deliverables – which governments and everyone else can be held accountable for? If we don’t do this, Africa will be the only hungry continent by 2030. We need to take a political economy approach to this (transformation). When we consider a national food systems strategy, we need to understand what is the political economy for food systems transformation in that country and at what cost? Who’s going to benefit from it and why? and who’s going to lose and why? We also must consider capacities – for example the CAADP (Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme) is a fantastic framework to drive agricultural transformation, but only two countries are on track, and this is due to a capacity gap. As much as we have policy frameworks in our countries, implementation has been weak, and that is majorly through implementation capacity…and because of that, governments are now willing to prioritize because they do not see the capacity for delivery. Finally, we must rethink blended financing or the financing mechanisms for these strategies

Dr. Godfrey Bahiigwa, Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, African Union Commission.

We (the African Union) have identified and defined the process that will allow us to engage and support member states to operationalize what they have identified in their food systems pathways and, actually, this is moving from ideas into bankable business cases that are implementable. At the same time, we are looking at how to enhance the actual capacity to implement, both in terms of public-private blended actions, but also involving sub-national institutions, and at the same time connecting with regional and continental efforts in realizing success.

Readwell Musopole, Deputy Director of Planning, Ministry of Agriculture, Zimbabwe

We (Zimbabwe) have come up with a roadmap in terms of how we move forward and it consists of four main areas: 1) Providing space for the minister of agriculture to take the action plan and lead the commitment with their ministerial colleagues, 2) to take this to the technocrats within the line ministries and provide details of identified challenges, and the priorities to be undertaken in the short term as well as the medium terms, 3) to have national validation sessions, where we are going to invite everyone to input and enrich this work to adopt the agenda at the country level, 4) to take this outcome at the national level to ground-level structures — the district councils — because we realized at the national stage is where the strategies and policies are put together, but in terms of action it’s going to be done at the grassroot level – the district council level. The production of the national consultations we envisage is going to be input into the national planning cycles and at the district council levels.

Gerda Verburg, Coordinator, Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement

We need to translate the pathways into policy, legislation, execution and financing, while making sure that the focus of our governments is not on only buying food to feed their people… but investing a part of the $60 billion per year that African governments are investing in importing food – which is an annual cost, but not an investment for the future – so that part of it is invested in the transition to become less dependent on imports and provide a better future for farmers, people, youth, women and communities.

Feb 17, 2023 | Press Release

H.E. Jakaya Kikwete announced as Africa Food Prize Chair

2023 Nominations for Africa’s preeminent award for food security now open

ADDIS ABABA, 17 February 2023 – Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Dr.
Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, has been announced as the new Chair of the Africa Food Prize (AFP). He will
succeed former Nigerian President, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, who has been serving as the AFP Chair
since 2016.

Welcoming the appointee, outgoing Chair, H.E. Obasanjo expressed enthusiasm noting that through
his work, H.E. Kikwete has shown a genuine passion and dedication towards transforming Africa’s
“I congratulate Dr. Kikwete on his appointment as Chair of the Africa Food Prize. Through his
leadership, I am confident that the continent will continue to explore and implement food systems
strategies that lift people from poverty through inclusive growth and sustainable development,” H.E.
Obasanjo said.
Dr Kikwete has a commendable track record as a leading contributor to the transformation of Africa’s
food systems. As President of Tanzania, H.E. Kikwete led the implementation of ‘Kilimo Kwanza’
(Swahili for Agriculture First), an initiative that unlocked productivity and profitability for the country’s
smallholder farmers. He also spearheaded the implementation of the Southern Agricultural Growth
Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), a public-private partnership aimed at unlocking more private sector
investment in the country’s agricultural sector.
Upon his retirement, and through the Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete Foundation, H.E. Kikwete has been
collaborating with farmers and researchers to develop initiatives and strategic interventions to
increase yield and productivity in smallholder farming and agribusiness.
Dr. Kikwete’s appointment coincides with the 2023 call for nominations for the US$100,000 Africa
Food Prize. The Africa Food Prize is the preeminent award recognizing the extraordinary women, men,
and institutions whose contributions to African agriculture are forging a new era of sustainable food
security and economic opportunity that elevates all Africans.
This year, Nestlé partnered with the Africa Food Prize, contributing CHF 100,000 (equivalent to US$
108,400) which will go to the main award, and a special category focusing on innovations that
advance regenerative food systems.
“We are excited to see how this year’s applicants for the Africa Food Prize are making a difference.
Their research and innovation efforts will help drive the transformation of agriculture on the African
continent, and we are proud to support this,” said Remy Ejel, Chief Executive Officer of Zone Asia,
Oceania and Africa, Nestlé S.A.
In 2022, Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, a Ghanaian plant geneticist, won the award for his outstanding
expertise, leadership and grantsmanship skills that led to the establishment and development of West
Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), a world class centre for training plant breeders in Africa
for Africa. Through WACCI, Mr. Danquah’s innovations led to the creation of more than sixty improved
seed varieties, including superior maize hybrid varieties, which continue to boost yield for farmers and
contribute towards food and nutritional security in Ghana.

Organisations, institutions, businesses, and individuals who have created opportunities for Africa’s
farmers to gain viable livelihoods from their trade can submit their nominations at
www.africafoodprize.org/nominate before Monday, 16 May 2023.
Winners will be selected by the Africa Food Prize committee and will be announced at the AGRF,
Africa’s Food Systems Forum 2023 to be held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in September.

About the Africa Food Prize
The US$100,000 Africa Food Prize celebrates Africans who are taking control of Africa’s agricultural
agenda. It puts a bright spotlight on bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated
across the continent to create a new era of food security and economic opportunity for all Africans.
The winners are selected by an independent panel of distinguished experts in African agriculture. The
Africa Food Prize began as the Yara Prize, established by Yara in 2005. It was moved to Africa and
rechristened the Africa Food Prize in 2016. More at africafoodprize.org.

Media queries
For any media interview requests and enquiries, please contact:
Jean Kiarie
Head of Communications, AGRA

Notes to Editors
All media materials related to the opening of the Africa Food Prize nominations can be found
at www.africafoodprize.org. Follow the conversation on Twitter at @AfriFoodPrize and share content
using #AfricaFoodPrize.

Feb 14, 2023 | Announcement, Press Release

Amath Pathé Sene announced as the new Managing Director for Africa’s food Systems Forum (AGRF)

The Africa’s Food Systems Forum (AGRF) secretariat is pleased to announce the appointment of Amath Pathé Sene the new Managing Director of the Forum.

As Managing Director, Pathé will be responsible for driving AGRF’s strategic growth and running the day-to-day business of its Secretariat as an independent, panAfrican, and multi-partner forum. He will continue to build on the great momentum already underway to take the AGRF a notch higher in its
vision and impact, by advancing and stewarding its multi-year strategy as agreed with the AGRA leadership and the AGRF Partners.

Pathé is an Agricultural Engineer by training and Climate and Environment Expert. He has over 18 years’ experience in the fields of agriculture, green finance & Agri value chains development, environment, climate change and sustainable natural resource management, food systems and nutrition security, rural development, and poverty reduction; rural infrastructure development; safeguards and de-risking public and private sector investments in sustainable agriculture. In his professional career, he has occupied various technical, managerial and leadership roles both at local, country, regional and global level, working across four regions in the World (Africa, South America, Central Asia and Europe).

Prior to joining AGRF, Pathé was the IFAD Lead Regional Environment and Climate Specialist for West and Central Africa based in Rome and later in Abidjan. He also acted as Director of the IFAD Abidjan sub regional office, and Country Director for Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, and Liberia. Before joining IFAD, Pathe was Policy Specialist on sustainable development with UNDP Global Policy Centre on Sustainable Development based in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). He previously worked with both UNDP and UNEP as Regional Program Advisor based in Nairobi (Kenya), providing technical assistance to African Countries on mainstreaming poverty, environment and gender objectives into national development and investment frameworks. Before that, he served as Program Officer and acting Team Lead with the UNDP Country Office in Mauritania.

Pathé’s other previous positions outside the UN include food security program and sub office manager in Afghanistan, a consultant with European Union in France and Agricultural Researcher at the Senegalese Agricultural Research Institute. He holds an MSc and post-graduate degree in Rural Societies, Territories, Sustainable Development and Natural Resources Management from Institut Agronomique Mediterraneen de Montpellier, France; an MSc on Agricultural Engineering from Ecole Nationale d’Agriculture de Meknes (Morocco) and MSc on Agribusiness, entrepreneurship and Gender from the Centre for International Agricultural Development Cooperation (Israel). Pathé speaks French, English, Portuguese, Wolof and Serer. He is a married and father to three awesome children.

Feb 7, 2023 | Blog

The power in your plate – Transforming Africa’s food systems through better nutritional choices

As of 2023, four out of 10 people in Africa live in cities, where they are exposed to new dietary trends and habits, including the regular consumption of highly processed foods, or foods of low nutritional value. At the same time, the soaring cost of living is denying many an opportunity to afford balanced diets. Consequently, there has been a co-related spike in diet-related diseases like malnutrition, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Indeed, the World Health Organization predicts that Africa will experience the highest increase in diabetes globally, reaching 55 million people by 2045—a 134% spike from 2021. As a result, nutrition-related conditions are costing African governments $110b every year in lost productivity.

Faced with such realities, we must admit that our current food systems are neither working for our health nor our environment, and must now be urgently transformed with a focus on improved nutrition for all. Going forward, all stakeholders are called upon to increase the access, affordability, and availability of healthy and nutritious food for all Africans across the continent, a process that starts with a strong policy environment. In this regard, governments must strive to actualize policies for robust nutrition-focused investments that can withstand emerging shocks like pandemics, regional and international conflicts, and climate change. Many of the policy goals needed to support this drive are contained in previous commitments by government leaders such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. In the next few years, it will be critical that governments honor their pledges in the aforementioned programs, notably the commitment to invest at least 10% of their budget in agricultural food system transformation, a key investment for addressing the continent’s nutrition and hunger problems.   

The private sector, too, has a vital role to play in sustaining the continent’s nutrition objectives, as it serves as the major link between producers and consumers of agricultural produce. Through various partnerships, governments and their development partners must advocate for nutritious food uptake in ways that invoke the interest of private investors. Some work has already been done in this context, including at last year’s AGRF – Africa’s Food System Summit, where private entrepreneurs, including owners of agri-SMEs, emphasized their willingness to move nutritious food, as long as it made business sense.

Yet perhaps the biggest progress in terms of nutrition would be achieved by targeting smallholder farming communities, which account for nearly two-thirds of the food consumed on the continent. Given appropriate production resources and linkages to markets, this demographic, comprising over 33 million households, may gradually transform the food choices available for the rest of the continent. This has already been shown by the successful commercialization of the orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) variety in countries like Kenya, Malawi and Rwanda. In Kenya alone, OFSP products raise over $5 million in revenues, through a demand that has helped increase the crop’s market value, and in turn, its commercial attractiveness to smallholder growers. More opportunities abound as the Vitamin-A rich variety is increasingly adopted by aid organizations for their humanitarian assistance products.

Meanwhile, indigenous foods must be continually explored in driving nutritional change amongst African countries, particularly in urban areas. Many researchers have found high nutritional value in traditional African vegetables, wild fruits and other indigenous crops, which are readily available or can be cultivated with minimal effort. However, these indigenous crops are increasingly marginalized as taste and diet preferences shift to exotic options, which are also increasingly available. However, for a complete transition to healthy food systems that do not leave anyone behind, it is important to lead a drive that integrates indigenous foods and ingredients in meal and diet plans.

In the long-run it is important to emphasize that the journey to well-nourished societies is one that requires the deliberate participation of all stakeholders, who must work towards a common goal. In the coming months, and as the continent prepares for different food system stocktakes, as well as progress tracking events like AGRF’s Food Systems Summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in September, we hope to see stronger action aimed at transforming the nutritional wellbeing of the continent, for socio-economic prosperity.