Nov 29, 2023 | Blog, Featured

Building Africa’s Agricultural Resilience in the Face of Climate Change

Amath Pathe Sene

Africa’s food systems hold global significance, impacting both worldwide food security and climate resilience. However, ensuring food resilience in Africa presents undeniable challenges. The connection between climate resilience and food systems becomes evident as climate change poses threats to agri-food systems , resulting in crop failures, increased food prices, loss in job opportunities and heightened food  and nutrition insecurity. Within this complex scenario, a critical issue emerges—the climate finance gap, specifically addressing challenges faced by smallholder farmers in Africa.

Despite Africa contributing less than 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, its agricultural sector grapples with disproportionate challenges, worsened by droughts, floods, heatwaves, pests and diseases . The Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 highlighted the severity, with smallholder farmers dealing with unprecedented temperatures. Alarmingly, only 35 cents of every climate finance dollar reaches these farmers, leaving them on the frontline of climate change impact. Urgent intervention is essential, not only to address the immediate needs of over 33 million smallholder farmers but also to establish a sustainable model ensuring resilience amidst climate uncertainties. Bridging the climate finance gap for these farmers is not just a financial imperative but a moral one, necessitating a concerted effort to empower those pivotal to our collective food security and environmental stability.

Shaping Africa’s Climate Agenda at COP28

The cornerstone of sustainable climate action lies in adapting and building resilience, encompassing the active involvement of communities, ecosystems, and infrastructure but also addressing losses and damages caused by recurrent climate events. This requires strengthening the adaptive capacity of African farmers, fortifying food supply chains, implementing inclusive policies, and developing crucial infrastructure. Recognizing the inefficiency in resource deployment, where Africa receives $USD30 billion in annual climate finance flow which is a mere 11 per cent of the required annual amount, underscores the urgent need for effective action. Given their vulnerability, farmers require inclusion and empowerment for resilience building to advance mitigation , adaptation , loss and damage.

Fundamentally, it becomes imperative to acknowledge Africa’s unique circumstances on the global stage within the broader context of climate negotiations. Africa’s heightened vulnerability, distinct sensitivities, and lower capacity to cope necessitate urgent and inclusive action. This acknowledgment lays the groundwork for a more equitable and effective approach in addressing climate change. To achieve the ambitious objectives outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, the global community must actively recognize and address the distinctive challenges that Africa’s food systems encounter.

Shaping a Sustainable Future: Advocacy,  Collaboration and Finance

The Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 underscored the complex connection between agriculture, nutrition, infrastructure climate change, and resilience, providing guidance on how best to steer the continent towards a transformative strategy for food systems.

Addressing the climate crisis requires a restructuring of financial architecture to encourage climate investments. Giving special attention to the agriculture sector, which bears the greatest impact, it is crucial to renew commitments to green financing initiatives. Despite Africa receiving $30 billion annually, only a small fraction of its requirements, global leaders must uphold the commitment to furnish $100 billion in yearly climate finance to developing countries.

 As the international community readies for COP28,  it is time for collective action to mold a more robust and sustainable future, drawing global attention to these crucial issues.

Shared advocacy and collaboration emerge as fundamental principles, with a particular emphasis on ensuring active inclusion for African countries. Recognizing the challenges faced by these nations in addressing climate change, a collective effort that transcends geographical and economic boundaries is imperative. This approach involves amplifying the voices of African countries, acknowledging their unique circumstances, and integrating their perspectives into the global climate dialogue. Collaboration extends beyond traditional state actors to include non-state entities, civil society, and the private sector, recognizing their pivotal roles in driving sustainable solutions. Establishing platforms for knowledge exchange, facilitating technology transfer, and providing adequate financial support are vital components of inclusive collaboration. The COP28 can serve as a catalyst for meaningful progress, ensuring that the concerns and contributions of African countries take center stage in the global climate action agenda.

Writer is Managing Director for the Africa Food Systems Forum

Original article published on the Nigerian Tribune. The article has also been published here and here


Jul 26, 2023 | Blog

AGRICULTURE : les systèmes alimentaires en Afrique, bilan et perspectives

Pendant longtemps, des pays africains ont mis en place des systèmes alimentaires, dont l’objectif est la transformation de l’agriculture en Afrique. D’où la naissance de la Zone de Libre-Échange Continentale Africaine ( ZLECAF ) qui est une opportunité de supprimer les barrières commerciales et de renforcer le commerce intrarégional, offrant aux agriculteurs des chaînes de valeur agro-alimentaires une forte incitation à augmenter les systèmes alimentaires.

Le défi à relever reste le financement des systèmes alimentaires sur un continent africain où une personne sur cinq est victime de la faim et dont la population devrait atteindre les deux milliards d’habitants d’ici 2050.

Des pays du monde sont en train de participer au tout premier bilan mondial de l’Accord de Paris visant à examiner les progrès accomplis dans la réalisation des objectifs climatiques essentiels. À la présentation des résultats à la COP28 aux Émirats Arabes Unis, il est attendu que l’une des conclusions soit que le monde, y compris la plupart des pays d’Afrique, ait encore un long chemin à parcourir pour atteindre les objectifs de l’Accord ( la réduction des émissions, l’atténuation et l’adaptation aux changements climatiques ).

En attendant, c’est le « global stock-taking » sur les systèmes alimentaires qui se tient du 24 au 26 juillet 2023. Un premier moment de bilan des systèmes alimentaires de l’ONU en 2023 à Rome, en Italie, à la faveur du sommet des Nations Unies sur les systèmes alimentaires 2021.

Cette rencontre a pour objectif de créer un espace propice pour que les pays passent en revue les engagements d’action pris lors du sommet.

Si l’Afrique prends les devants, elle peut mettre à profit les processus de révision des déclarations et des engagements pour accélérer la transformation des systèmes alimentaires.

Les secteurs de l’agriculture et de l’alimentation sont parmi ceux qui contribuent le plus aux émissions de gaz à effet de serre. Cependant, les investissements adéquats dans la transition vers des systèmes alimentaires durables, résilients et inclusifs feraient de l’agriculture une partie clé de la solution.

L’un des points essentiels du sommet de cette année sera la participation des femmes qui fournissent 40% de la main-d’œuvre dans la production agricole et des jeunes qui composent 60% de la population en Afrique subsaharienne dans la transformation des systèmes alimentaires, en mettant l’accent sur leur engagement dans l’évaluation des progrès accomplis et l’établissement de nouveaux partenaires pour accélérer la réalisation de ces objectifs.

Lors de ce sommet très riche, l’Agribusiness Dealroom, selon le directeur général du forum sur les systèmes alimentaires en Afrique, renforcera sa capacité de mettre en relation les entrepreneurs et les gouvernements avec des investisseurs, des fonds et des prestataires de services techniques, et de faciliter l’accès au financement et au soutien technique pour faire progresser l’innovation et les plans de transformation nationaux. Il promet également une étape cruciale dans le parcours de l’Afrique vers la sécurité alimentaire.

Mar 8, 2023 | Blog

Fatou Manneh, Founder of Jelmah Herbella, on Supporting Women in Agriculture

The VALUE4HER Women Agripreneurs of the Year Awards, known as WAYA recognizes African female agripreneurs who have excelled in the agricultural value chains and have demonstrated remarkable innovation by contributing positively towards food security, climate resilience, women and youth empowerment. The awards aim to create visibility for successful women and promote them as positive role models, trigger innovation, and spur ambition among women agripreneurs. We spoke to Fatou Manneh, founder of Jelmah Herbella, based in The Gambia and awarded YOUNG FEMALE AGRIPRENEUR (RISING STAR).

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Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Fatou Manneh, I am 33 years old, from The Gambia. I was schooled in The Gambia and went to the University of The Gambia where I studied Development Studies and a minor in English. In 2014 when I had completed my degree I joined a project called EMPRETEC which focused on educating entrepreneurs, farmers and vendors to facilitate sustainable development and inclusive growth. I am a professional trainer, specialising in entrepreneurship and agricultural training, especially educating and empowering women. While working for EMPRETEC, I set up my business Jelmah Herbella.

What is Jelmah Herbella?

Jelmah is a local name which means ‘choose me’ and Herbella is ‘Her beauty’. I had the idea back in high school when I saw herbs everywhere and wanted to start using them. In 2019 I set up the business. Jelmah Herbella processes locally grown herbs and cereals into teas, honey, herbal seasoning, and baby food, using blended recipes that give customers a unique taste and healthy diet. We work with farmers to produce organic herbs on a large scale through a farmers’ platform that brings together groups of women farmers under one umbrella, encouraging women to engage in permaculture, grow herbs in the backyard using car tires, sacks, broken pans, and sell Herbs and Cereal crops to a reliable market to earn extra income. They ensure sustainable health community through organic farming.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s day – DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality – what role has innovation and technology played in your business?

We have leveraged technology since we started Jelmah Herbella. It’s crucial for us to connect with women from all over. I use social media to reach people around the globe and tell our story to a much bigger audience. We use technology to reach out to potential partners, investors and mentors and this has meant we have been able t grow as a company. Some of the herbs that exist in The Gambia are not available elsewhere but by using technology we can sell them to anyone. But we need to bring women along on the journey, and give them greater access to the latest technologies. We need to educate women on the uses of technology, this will have a big impact on the gender gap. Access to technology gives us greater access to best-practice and learnings from all over the world. It means we can all work together to help and support each other. The world is a global village.

How did you hear about the Value4Her WAYA awards? And what made you enter? What has winning the award meant to you?

I am so proud, grateful and honoured to have won. It was technology that helped me to hear about WAYA and the award. I am always looking for opportunities and I came across the award and thought ‘why not, let me try’. When I was told I was the winner I couldn’t believe it! I believed in myself and it’s amazing that WAYA also believe in me. Walking on to that stage in Rwanda at the AGRF Summit, in front of so many incredible dignitaries, to receive the award was something I will never forget. I am so honoured. Winning the award has given me the opportunity to travel all over the world, telling people about Jelmah Herbella and opening new doors for me.

What are your hopes for the future and what advice would you give young entrepreneurs in Africa?

The Award has enabled me to rebrand my product and I am so excited about what the future holds for myself and Jelmah Herbella. I am now able to reach a global market and really put The Gambia on the map. We’re able to do more marketing and get our website up and running which will give us greater visibility. Connecting with WAYA has opened so many doors for me and I’m excited to see where life takes us. I believe I will be the leading tea provider in Africa.

My advice to young people is to step out of your comfort zone, ask questions, connect with people. The time you spend on your phone, use it wisely, look for opportunities. Set goals that are realistic, attainable but demanding. What do you want to achieve and where do you see yourself in the future? Look for mentors to help you get there. Believe in yourself, only you can get you to where you need to be.

| Blog

Une vision, un objectif et beaucoup de courage: Kiel bien-être, une histoire personnelle

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Le prix Value4her, femme “agripreneur de l’année”, connu sous le nom “WAYA”, est un prix qui reconnait les femmes agripreneurs africaines, qui ont vraiment contribué de facon exceptionnelle vers les filières agricoles.

Ces femmes ont fait preuve d’une innovation remarquable dans les domaines de la sécurité alimentaire, dans la résilience et l’adaptation au changement climatique, ainsi que dans l’émancipation des femmes et des jeunes. Ce prix a, comme objectif, de créer de la visibilité pour ces femmes brillantes et accomplies, et de les promouvoir en tant que modèles – des modèles qui inspirent innovation et ambition pour les jeunes d’aujourd’hui.

Pour cet épisode, nous avons accueilli Célia Chabi, directrice de Kiel bien-être, basée au Bénin, et gagnante du prix pour la valeur ajoutée exceptionnelle de son entreprise. Ses produits à base de baobab (café, huile, pommade, baume) aident réellement à réduire les risques de carences et de dénutrition – et Célia travaille toujours à développer ses recettes pour le bien-être de la communauté.

Nous avons commencé par discuter du parcours personnel de Célia. Elle nous a parlé de ses origines béninoises, elle y a fait ses études et elle a toujours vécu dans le nord du pays. Spécialiste dans l’accompagnement psychosocial des enfants, mais aussi passionnée par la nature et la lecture, son histoire est un véritable exemple du potentiel énorme quand nous combinons nos compétences et nos passions.

“Ma passion pour la nature m’a poussé à créer Kiel bien-être”. La conversation a continué ainsi:

Ton activisme et ton travail dans les organisations et les associations diverses et variées ont-ils commencé assez tôt dans ta vie, et qu’est-ce qui t’a mené vers cette activité ?

J’ai commencé à militer dans la vie associative à l’âge de 12 ans – dans mon quartier j’ai constaté qu’ il y avait des enfants qui, au cours de leur scolarité, n’arrivaient pas à suivre car ils avaient des difficultés pour lire. Donc j’ai commencé pendant les vacances scolaires à organiser des jeux et des activités pour leur permettre quand même de gagner le niveau nécessaire afin de commencer la nouvelle rentrée.

Après, j’ai créé une association qui avait pour but d’intéresser les enfants, à partir de 5 ans, a aimer la lecture. C’est avec cette association que les gens ont commencé à s’intéresser à moi, et c’est parti comme ça !

Raconte-nous l’histoire de ton entreprise, Kiel bien-être. Pourquoi l’entreprise existe-t-elle ? Elle a été fondée pourquoi et comment ?

J’ai connu une période assez difficile, une maladie qui a duré plus de 10 ans, qui m’avait empêché de continuer mes études. Je suis donc passé par une période de dépression vraiment massive.

“Mais je me suis dit: j’ai des objectifs, j’ai une vision, je suis jeune et j’ai tellement envie de contribuer au développement de l’économie de mon pays, qu’il ne faut pas que j’abandonne.”

Donc, je suis arrivé à me relever de cette situation-là. Je me suis posé la question, qu’est-ce que j’aimerais laisser pour la génération future ?

Kiel bien-être est parti d’une histoire personnelle. Mon fils aîné a souffert de la dysenterie. J’ai dû faire plein de recettes de grand-mère, et j’ai essayé avec du baobab. Au bout de 2 jours, les symptômes de la dysenterie sont partie. Je me suis dit “wow!”.

Donc je me suis intéressée davantage à ce que le baobab peut nous apporter nutritionnellement – et à ce que nous pourrions faire avec les feuilles, et avec d’autres parties de la plante, au-delà des petits produits que nous trouvons au marché.

Le thème de la journée internationale de la femme pour 2023 est “L’innovation et la technologie pour l’égalité des sexes”. Quel rôle a-t-elle joué, la technologie, pour la fondation et le progrès de Kiel bien-être ? Qu’est ce que tu vois comme les obstacles et les opportunités avec la technologie ?

Je pense qu’aujourd’ hui je dois parler des réseaux sociaux qui m’ont permis de faire connaître Kiel bien-être à travers le pays et à l’international. Je suis fière aujourd’hui d’être membre de plusieurs réseaux, et tout ça, c’est grâce au numérique. Si il n’y avait pas cette technologie, nous n’aurions pas les mêmes opportunités.

Les femmes s’y intéressent de plus en plus. Mais, prenons le Bénin comme exemple, la scolarité est un problème. La plupart des jeunes filles ne vont pas à l’école. Je pense que chez nous, le gouvernement doit faire le nécessaire pour que toutes les filles puissent avoir une éducation.

Quoique soit la raison, pour les individus comme pour les entreprises, que ce soit les femmes ou les hommes, la technologie et les réseaux sociaux représentent un point de sortie, et davantage d’opportunités.

Comment as-tu su pour le prix ‘WAYA’ ? Et quelle était ta motivation pour présenter ta candidature ?

Ceci a commencé en 2021, quand une amie m’a envoyé le lien – il fallait être nommé par quelqu’un, donc c’est mon époux qui m’a nommée.

J’ai reçu le mail me disant que je faisais partie des top 15, puis des top 7. Mais je n’ai pas pu faire partie des lauréates cette fois-ci…

J’étais en colère, je me disais que j’avais raté une opportunité. J’étais impressionnée quand même par ces femmes qui étaient gagnantes. Donc, en 2022 j’ai vraiment guetté la candidature, j’ai bien suivi le processus du début à la fin et ceci m’a permis d’évaluer et d’améliorer mon projet, de revoir mes objectifs. J’avais maintenant un vrai but, et heureusement pour moi, j’étais cette fois ci parmi les lauréates. J’ai reçu le prix pour l’entreprise de la valeur ajoutée exceptionnelle.

Et quand tu as appris que tu avais gagné, quelle a été ta réaction ? Qu’est-ce que cela signifie pour toi et pour Kiel bien-être, d’avoir gagné ce prix ?

Même le jour de la remise du prix, je ne savais pas encore que je serais gagnante ! C’était déjà très bien d’avoir pu pousser mon entreprise, par la candidature, vers un si grand réseau.

Quand j’ai su que j’avais gagné, je suis un peu passé par toutes les émotions, j’étais surtout étonnée ! Et il y avait bien sûr une part de satisfaction, je me suis dit : “Célia, tu as franchi cette grande étape, maintenant il va falloir que tu travailles encore plus ! Il faut vraiment que je sois à la hauteur de ce projet-la, il ne faut pas que tu déçoives !”

Le prix WAYA nous a aidé à acquérir beaucoup de terre et de matériel, ce qui a transformé notre entreprise et m’a permis de ‘grandir’ en tant qu’entrepreneur. En peu de temps, nous avons fait un truc exceptionnel ,ça a changé ma vie.

Ce que j’ai aussi vraiment apprécié dans le prix WAYA, c’est le suivi. L’équipe ne nous a jamais lâché. De temps en temps, il y avait des personnes qui venaient voir si nous avions besoin d’aide pour ceci, pour cela…Ce sont des choses qui sont rares, en fait.

C’est devenu comme une famille.

Pour les jeunes à travers le continent africain, qu’est-ce que tu leur dirais ? As-tu des conseils pour les jeunes entrepreneurs ?

Je leur dirais : postulez pour les prix comme WAYA ! Car vous ne savez jamais ce qui peut arriver ! Ne jamais perdre votre vision. Il faut avoir une grande vision, et surtout une bonne vision.

L’entrepreneuriat aujourd’hui, ce n’est pas facile. Ce n’est pas qui veut, mais qui peut. Nous avons souvent envie d’abandonner mais il faut travailler encore plus dans ces moments. Et une chose très importante, c’est de vous entourer de bonnes personnes qui vont vraiment vous soutenir moralement.

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 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.

Sep 29, 2022 | Blog

At AGRF 2022, we were sure to spill the beans!

Tiny but mighty beans made a splash at AGRF’s 2022 Summit in Rwanda 5-9 September. The SDG2 Advocacy Hub worked closely with partners – including PABRA, AGRA, CGIAR, the Rockefeller Foundation, and WFP – to plan a series of activities to promote the importance of beans, pique interest and unify stakeholders around the rallying call of doubling global bean consumption by 2028. This included announcements of the campaign, the promotion of the value of beans, local visits to school meals projects and farms, and an exhibition of local varieties of beans on display alongside bean artwork and the campaign promotional materials.

Joining President Kagame and other past and present African Heads of State at the AGRF Gala Dinner, representatives of the Chefs’ Manifesto – Chef Alejandra Schrader, Chef Christian Abegan, Chef Dennis Prescott, and Rwanda-based Chef Claude Bigamimpunzi – together with Paul Newnham, announced the upcoming Beans is How campaign. The Chefs served four diverse beans inspired dishes, promoting the beans’ nutritious and delicious value.

Beans is How is an ambitious campaign to double the global consumption of beans (as well as peas, pulses and legumes) by 2028. The campaign will look to engage key audiences across food systems and beyond to champion beans in their work: the farmers who grow them, scientists who study them, companies who sell them, chefs who serve them, and people who consume them. Everyone, everywhere has a role to play in elevating beans to their rightful place.

wanda is the highest consumer of beans per capita in the world, and thus the perfect place to announce the Beans is How campaign. With beans eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the world has a lot to learn from Rwanda’s example. Showcasing nine different varieties of beans purchased from Kigali’s Kimironko market, a beans pop up stand stopped AGRF participants in their tracks and served as a dedicated space to host conversations about:

  • The importance of beans as a nutritious food that is accessible and affordable
  • Beans as a climate-friendly and sustainable solution for people and planet
  • Celebrating African ingredients and products from across the continent while promoting diverse crops and diets, especially for nutritious school meals

The stand also proudly featured a beans artwork by local artist Bernard Birasa that symbolizes beans as a powerful unifier and connector across the globe, alongside Beans is How branded banners.

Online, a holding message was released for the Beans is How website and social channels.

An article was placed in the New Times Rwanda by CGIAR on the PABRA 25 Years.

The First Lady of Rwanda, Mrs. Kagame, focused on the AU’s year of nutrition and school meals, made a commitment to continue to champion beans in Rwanda and lead the way for a continent-wide increase in production and consumption in a session she hosted for First Ladies.

The chefs and SDG2 Advocacy Hub team also joined the Pan African Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) in celebrating their 25-year anniversary. The chefs took part in panel discussions promoting beans consumption, media opportunities, and consumer behaviours, to school meals!

A delegation, including the chefs, also made multiple field trips around Rwanda to promote the values of Good Food For All and the Chefs’ Manifesto. This included:

  • A visit to Farm Fresh Rwanda, a local company producing high iron beans
  • A very special trip to visit Kayonza, for the School Meals Initiative where chefs met with a farmers cooperative and got to interact with farmers supplying fresh fruit and vegetables to the local school meal programs alongside the World Food Programme. They interacted with the school administrator and representative of the parents committee about how to increase nutrients whilst still making the food delicious.
  • A visit with Africa Improved Foods to look at the process of fortifying staple foods, which aims to help people maximise their potential through improved nutrition with affordable, high quality, locally sourced foods.
Sep 9, 2022 | Blog


The Youth Town Hall event, held today at the AGRF 2022 Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, saw policy makers, NGO leaders, business leaders and young entrepreneurs come together, providing a platform for young people to articulate their issues, challenges and aspirations within the agri-food space and to pose their questions to those leading the charge.

With an opening section celebrating the winners of this year’s GoGettaz competition, the session rapidly took on the dynamic and vibrant nature of Africa’s young entrepreneurship scene, reflecting the innovative and exciting potential of these individuals and their work. Nozipho Mbanjwa told attendees, “This is all about celebrating young agripreneurs who are really pioneering African solutions.”

As the applause wound down, Edson Mpyisi, Chief Financial Economist and Coordinator of ENABLE Youth at African Development Bank Group, took to the stage and had two messages for the young people in the room. Firstly, that everyone is truly rooting for them. He also urged them not to try to do everything alone. “Reach out for support” was his parting message.

Next was Amade Miquidade, the Ambassador of Mozambique in Rwanda, who for the most part, addressed the audience in his native Portuguese – he told the young attendees that this really is the time to build the future. A time in which we have multiple tools at our disposal, including developing technologies and various means of obtaining information. He highlighted that we can constantly learn from different people and different countries. In his words: “The youth mustn’t sit down and wait for others to draw and make policy – you must build the capacity for implementing policies that will help make the future you want.” He went on to make the point that to embark on further education and study doesn’t mean it’s imperative to follow a theoretical course – making the point that learning the technical aspects of producing crops has as much use and merit as studying to be a doctor or white collar worker.

What followed was an ambitious and inquisitive conversation between the young founders and co-founders of some of Africa’s most exciting new agribusinesses. The issues raised varied; from the difficulty in getting access to Africa’s governments, and therefore, appropriate agribusiness funding and technology; to unfair competition in markets where global imports account for a huge proportion of the country’s food.

Ronald Diang’a, CEO of Kenarava – a business advisory company – realised after undertaking training in Israel, that there is a big gap in support and advisory services that are youth-led and youth- centric.He was keen to argue that governments need to take a contemporary, technology-led approach in order to push young agripreneurship forward. He insisted that within government interventions, investments and strategies,modern technologies be wholly embedded – so that young people can do business their way, with the tools they know, and thrive.

Other panelists agreed, strongly acknowledging that a technology-centric approach to agriculture will be paramount to success in the sector. Other ideas included stipulating that government policies must hold a commercial advantage for young entrepreneurs in agriculture. For example, decreasing tax burdens, or ensuring that banks feel the need to provide competitive advantages in terms of funding and investment for youth agripreneur projects.

The conversation turned towards reach, education and marketing around nutrition and of the local, healthy food that is available to our populations.  As one panellist stated, producing healthy and nutritious food is one thing – but the challenge is then how to sell it, and how to reach people to educate them on its benefits? There is a need to shift mainstream consumer behaviour, and to do so at scale. Dr Florence Sibomana, Senior Program Officer on NCDs at PATH Rwanda &Youth Leader for Nutrition-SUN Movement, added, “it’s about advocating distinct branding strategies with help from governments, to help improve knowledge amongst the people on health and nutrition choices.”

Next was the question on how policymakers equip players with a high-potential market, ensuring local producers and agripreneurs can enter markets easily – instead of competing with multinational giants stocking shelves all over the world. Around 90% of food on supermarket shelves in Africa is currently imported. The answer? That it will require more than one approach: firstly, food security at a local level. Secondly, resolving supply chain issues – there is a distinct lack of skills in this area, and in marketing too. Dr Sibomania remarked on the need to upskill farmers on communication with supermarkets and hotels, to ensure their products are stocked and sold to customers. The same goes for reducing post-harvest loss. Governments, individuals and startups must prioritise the harnessing and dissemination of best practices in these areas – in a way that builds on current expertise, rather than constantly reinventing the wheel.

The big question that resounded and was returned to, was, ultimately, how young people create and sustain a productive dialogue with their governments. Kombo Ekra Noël N’guessan, Founder of LONO, challenged the Ambassador on what Mozambique is doing to help with the common frustration of having to communicate with multiple government ministries as an agricultural startup. In other words, how do we ensure the linkage between those responsible for land, energy and water, in order to facilitate the work of leading agripreneurs?

Miquidade’s final commentary focused on the Mozambican government’s efforts to greenlight funding from financial institutions, as well as the provision of and access to high-value equipment for early-stage startups.

As Dr Agnes Kalibata made her closing remarks, she told attendees, assuredly, that “Africa has no future if its future is not about investing in young people.”

Her message to everyone present was that Africa must insist on this mission to feed itself – because if not, by 2030 we will be a poor continent. And her message to the young population? “Remember – nothing about us, without us. Don’t allow anybody to determine or mess with your future. You have a voice.”

| Blog

Closing Plenary: Stronger Together

As the sun sets on a hugely successful and incredibly important AGRF 2022, the closing plenary reflected on the week’s events, activities and outcomes – to scrutinise and discuss the lessons learned and the commitments made. The final plenary sought to underline how collaborative partnerships globally and nationally play an important role in reaching the goals of food security and advance the transformation of food systems.

The focus of this year’s summit has been around addressing the challenges facing the continent, from climate change to food security, the need to work collaboratively and recognising that forging the right partnerships will be fundamental to tackling the task at hand. We have reached the halfway point for the Sustainable Development Goals and are entering the final year of the first decade of Agenda 2063. The need for partnerships between countries, between institutions and stakeholder groups will all need to be strengthened to meet the ambitious goals that have been set.

The moderator, Ms. Fiona Mbabazi, opened by setting out the format and introducing Ms. Jennifer Baarn, Managing Director, AGRF for the official welcome, who began by noting that, ‘Everything that is happening is only exposing vulnerabilities that were already there, we need to ensure that in every corner of this continent, the voice of food systems transformation is clear.’ Reflecting on what happens after the summit ends she urged the importance of ‘carrying the baton and ensuring that every event taking place across the world, the voice of the African continent is clear.’

Dr. Ousmane Badiane, Founder and Executive Chairperson, Akademiya 2063 offered some thoughts and framed the conversation by highlighting the progress that has been made in the last twenty years but warned it was stalling, with reduced spending, and the per capita income diminished but he also spoke about opportunity by embracing change and seizing upon the technological innovations that are available.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Claudia Sadoff, Executive Managing Director (EMD), CGIAR began by remarking on what a fantastic opportunity it had been to reconnect with one another. Praising the ‘collegiality and sense of cautious optimism.’ Going on to iterate the need for practical action and investment in research to avoid further backslides, ‘we simply cannot succeed in taking technologies to scale unless we’re working in concert with Africa’s technical and research systems.’

The need for forging partnerships has been a leitmotif throughout the conference and today looked to underscore its importance. The discussion that followed, Reinforcing Global Cooperation for Food Systems emphasised the benefits and necessity for regional and national partnering.

Mr. Jorge Werthein, Senior Adviser to the Director General, IICA noted the common issues that they face in Central America and how advantageous it could be to cooperate and exchange ideas and information across the regions.

Mr. Yerlan Alimzhanuly Baidaulet, Director General, Islamic Organization for Food

Security expressed the need for continued communication, ‘out of Covid we’ve found the facility to communicate with one another which has been extremely important given the logistical issues faced by working across nations. Partnerships in action: create the partnerships, do the action. The problem with big conferences is we talk, we have to act immediately not just talk.’

H.E. Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, Founder and CEO, Food Systems for the Future opined that to ensure that agriculture is the driving force for economic growth, ‘we can’t achieve the goals if we can’t attract the capital and learn how to create a narrative that is appealing to private investment, by focusing not on the risk but upselling the advantages.’  

Ms. Diane Karusisi, CEO, Bank of Kigali appealed for renewed urgency to work with all the stakeholders to ensure there was food on the table and be resilient to shock.

After the discussion Ms. Jennifer Baarn underlined the takeaways of the event, saying, ‘The AGRF 2022 marks a turning point for Africa’s agricultural and food systems – we call upon governments, private sector and farmer organizations to turn promises into action. And let that action be accompanied by investments.’ She then handed over to Mr. Adam Gerstenmier, Executive Director, Food Action Alliance who praised how the continent has mobilized itself to make it a central part of the conversation on the global stage, remarking, ‘Africa was a leader at the UN food summit and is now showing the same leadership in implementation.’ He concluded on a similarly upbeat note, ‘in terms of climate change, Africa is at a crossroads, but there is an unprecedented opportunity for transformation.’

There followed remarks from Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President, AGRA and Host of the AGRF Secretariat who stated the intention to rebrand the AGRF from being a Green Revolution to being a Food Systems Transformation to great applause.

The closing remarks went to H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn, Chair, AGRF Partners Group and Former Prime Minister, Ethiopia who declared that the progress and commitments that had been made this week were but one part of the puzzle, ‘We need our leaders to act decisively and swiftly to implement the ambitions and practical actions that have been outlined in the AGRF 2022 summit.’