18 African food systems leaders complete inaugural Advanced Leadership Programme of AGRA’s Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA)

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

[Lilongwe, Tuesday, 24 January 2023]: Eighteen food systems leaders from Malawi and Tanzania have graduated from the AGRA-led Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture’s (CALA) Advanced Leadership Programme in Lilongwe, Malawi.  They were awarded certificates in the Advanced Leadership Programme for Africa’s Food Security and Sustainability after completing a 16-month training, designed to equip them with the practical leadership skills for effective implementation of national agriculture programmes prioritised in their respective countries. 

This was the third and final of three regional graduation ceremonies scheduled for CALA’s inaugural cohort of 80 delegates who were competitively selected from eight countries – Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Ghana and Nigeria – for the 16-month programme last year.  The first graduation ceremony for 17 delegates from Ghana and Nigeria was held on November 30, 2022, in Accra, Ghana, in a function presided over by Dr Solomon Gyan Ansah, Director of Crops Services in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Dr. Ansah noted the CALA programme’s responsiveness 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.”

The second graduation ceremony for 32 delegates from Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Uganda was held on December 7th, 2022, in Nairobi, Kenya. This East African graduation was presided over by Mr Philip Kello Harsama, Principal Secretary in the State Department for Crop Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. Mr Harsama commended AGRA for supporting the Ministry to achieve its objectives, and for heeding to its promise of supporting sector leadership as they work to advance food systems transformation.

Mr Harsama highlighted CALA’s collaborative spirit which 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,” he said.

The last of the three scheduled graduation ceremonies was held in Lilongwe, Malawi on 24th January 2022 for 18 delegates. This Southern African graduation was presided over by Dr.Rodwell Mzonde, Director of Planning Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Malawi. Dr. Rodwell Mzonde encouraged the graduates to mentor others and note that their ability to apply what they have learnt is what is going to make them transformation agents. During the ceremony, the delegates presented results of their Action Learning Projects, a unique aspect of CALA’s leadership training. In Tanzania this included reducing poultry mortality rates by promoting cluster production systems and enhancing small-holders sesame farmers’ access to formal market channels in the Southern regions of Tanzania. Malawi delegates also worked 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 in Malawi. 

Dr Agnes Kalibata, AGRA’s President, said CALA is breeding leaders to take the agriculture sector forward and get our people out of poverty. This will be achieved by building a critical mass of African leaders who are committed to cross-sector collaboration and innovation in food systems.  

“One can’t be a leader in the agriculture sector unless they understand how the sector works. There is need for continuous sharing of ideas and support within the sector. It is time to think of our roles as leaders and how we can collaborate for the sake of our people. CALA has empowered you as leaders to influence change and move the agriculture sector forward.”

The graduates join a growing continental network of leaders who have distinguished themselves advancing national food security goals. The first class of 80 included executive-level leaders with more than 15 years of experience, and rising stars – typically those with 10+ years of experience in delivery of key national agriculture programmes. 

The first cohort was selected from over 1,000 applicants, with 45% of them drawn from government agencies across the eight countries. Twenty-six percent of them come from the private sector and 29% from civil society. The second cohort of 80 delegates joined the programme in August 2022.

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

# End # 

For media interviews and enquiries:

Jean Kiarie, Head of Communications, AGRA

Phone: +254722719070

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 businesses, 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.