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Africa deserves better food systems; this is how we are making it happen

Jaqueline Kubania

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Wasafiri together with Wageningen University and Research, is growing a movement of food systems leaders working to transform food on the continent

The African Food Fellowship is just 16 months old, opening its doors in Kenya in May 2021 with a cohort of 27 food systems professionals drawn from aquaculture, horticulture and agri-finance. It expanded to Rwanda in October of the same year admitting another group of 27 Fellows this time drawn from actors working in food entrepreneurship, access to nutritious food and sustainable land use.

The Fellowship completed its pilot phase in June this year, counting among its successes the graduation of Kenyan and Rwandan Fellows from the Food Systems Leadership Programme in April and September respectively.

“[The programme so far] exceeded our expectations in many ways. Firstly, we confirmed that there are a great number of wonderful leaders working on food systems transformation in their communities and countries, who really want to up their leadership role and effectiveness. Secondly, we developed from scratch and implemented a top-quality food systems leadership programme,” says Fellowship Director Joost Guijt.

There is a big need for a dedicated programme like this to complement the efforts of others. The Fellowship is co-run by world-class experts from Wageningen University and Research and has just secured additional funding to help support its operations for the next five years. This is wonderful news and shows we are well on our way to being here for the long haul.

“In the next phase, we will be working on building the core components of the African Food Fellowship including country Fellowships, the leadership programme, and research. Until 2024 we will expand and create solid foundations in Rwanda and Kenya, and then grow to other countries. Our hope is to be in at least seven countries across Africa by 2027,” added Joost.

Upon graduation, Fellows form country Fellowships to which they have a lifetime membership. While they still enjoy support from the Fellowship secretariat, especially in their nascent phase, country Fellowships are envisioned as semi-autonomous platforms that allow Fellows to congregate and remain engaged in each other’s work.

The Kenya Food Fellowship will, for instance, host a Transform Food Festival event in November this year bringing together top food systems leaders from across the country for a day of showcasing initiatives and learning from each other.

The Fellowship’s formidable Fellows are making big splashes in the food world with incredible results – healthier, more accessible and more sustainable food in East Africa.

Discover some of the cool things our Fellows are doing. Also, follow our pages to keep up with more Fellowship news.

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash