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African Food Fellowship: supporting future food systems leaders

Published on
March 18, 2021

This week Wageningen University & Research and Wasafiri, in cooperation with African partners and supported by the IKEA Foundation and University Fund Wageningen, launch the application window for a new African Food Fellowship. The Fellowship will empower emerging leaders working in food systems across the continent to help transform Africa's food systems and ensure equitable availability and access to healthy and sustainable food for all.

Food systems at every level must change quickly to deliver healthier diets, higher quality of life and more biodiverse landscapes. Africa's nations have big ambitions to produce and trade more healthy food, food systems leadership will help meet these goals.

A new leadership programme

According to Joost Guijt, senior advisor at WUR, 'we need a leadership programme focused on creating change within food systems and operating at scale across Africa, moving the boundaries for decision-making. Imagine thousands of food system leaders from public, private and civil society sectors, well equipped to make better day-to-day decisions for people and the environment. And doing so together, well connected and acting together within their own countries and across key areas. It will be an important measure to ensure sufficient food for everyone, healthy diets, equitable benefits, sustainability and preservation of biodiversity.'

Alex Rees, Wasafiri's co-lead of the initiative adds, 'we believe the systems leadership skills and experiences provided through the African Food Fellowship are important to help transform food systems throughout Africa. Our efforts will accentuate the positive impact sought through investments made by governments, businesses and development assistance. Open-hearted collaboration and partnership is essential.'

True transformation of food systems

Starting in Kenya and Rwanda, and seeking to be continent-wide, the African Food Fellowship is a bold response to the challenge of true transformation of food systems. Joost Guijt explains: 'focusing on select impact areas within a country's food system, the African Food Fellowship will enable thousands of leaders to improve and demonstrate the systems leadership that is so critical for progress. Each cohort of leaders will collaborate for over four months in a world-leading systems leadership programme that will be followed by dedicated coaching support. Successful participants will graduate with formal recognition from Wageningen University & Research. They will develop a network and mindset for positive change that will enhance their careers and achievements in the sector.'

Passionate leaders working on healthy diets and more inclusive and biodiverse food systems will be actively sought via targeted messaging institutions, and via social media in three starting impact areas. These are: inclusive aquaculture, micro- and small enterprise in horticulture and agri-finance, and digital.