Food Fellowship commits to fairer, healthier systems 

Thursday June 10 2021

Aquaculture can help ensure supply that meets the high demand for fish products in Africa. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The African Food Fellowship kicked off a food systems leadership training programme on May 17, admitting the first cohort of 30 students — all of whom are from Kenya. The training will boost Africa’s food systems.

The 10-month programme, which will focus on three impact areas of agri-finance, horticulture and aquaculture, seeks to mould mid-career professionals in the agricultural sector into thought leaders who will advocate for food security, equitable access to markets and sustainable agriculture in Africa.

“The first cohort is full of creative, committed and kind people who each are hard at work acting on their commitment to fairer, healthier food systems,” said director of the African Food Fellowship Joost Guijt, at a virtual launch ceremony held in Nairobi and Wageningen University & Research in The Netherlands last week on Monday. 

“We need a leadership programme that is focused on creating change within food systems and operating on a wide scale across Africa, moving the boundaries for decision-making. 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.”


The next cohort will come from Rwanda, as the programme expands to cover more countries on the continent. 


“Our goal is to eventually cover more than 30 countries in Africa,” said Mr Guijt.

The fellowship is an initiative of the Wageningen University & Research and Wasafiri, with support from the IKEA Foundation.

Upon successful completion of the initial four-month training programme, participants will receive a certificate from Wageningen University & Research.

This will be followed by five months of support, including coaching on a food systems initiative of the participant’s choice.

Graduates of the full ten months will be invited to become fellows in the African Food Fellowship.

“The aim of the fellowship is to foster partnerships, innovation and resources to shift African food systems towards more regenerative and inclusive outcomes. This inaugural cohort is made up of passionate food systems leaders who are taking the proactive step to develop their individual leadership skills, networks, strategies and transformative action within African food systems,” said AFF programme dean Eunice Khaguli. 

Major obstacles including climate, adoption of technology and education, financing and policy and infrastructure, limit the success of agricultural production in Africa. Smallholder farmers in Africa are still among the poorest in the world.