The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has launched a unique centre to provide hands-on implementation support for African leaders in the agriculture sector. The programme named “Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA)” is a key part of a scale-up of investment to AGRA by the German Development Cooperation through KfW Development Bank. In addition to KwF’s founding financial support and AGRA’s lead role, the centre’s founding partners also include the African Management Institute (AMI) and USAID’s Policy LINK which will lead group coaching sessions as well as contribute to the design of learning materials.
The programme’s core focus, according to the organisers, will be on supporting leaders in government, the private sector, and civil society with the practical skills to navigate, coordinate and better implement solutions to national agriculture challenges. It is also expected to profile agroecological principles which are increasingly being recognized as contributing to sustainable farming and food production, and resilient food systems in the face of increasing climate change impacts.
Speaking on the significance of launching the leadership centre, Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA, noted that despite Africa’s agriculture prospects, the last years have been full of challenges and threats to the agriculture sector inflicted by natural shocks, climate change, and the challenges of continental trade and policy coordination.
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“Our experience at AGRA has taught us that achieving Africa’s food security targets and achieving inclusive economic growth will require leaders who are responsive, adaptable and collaborative, while also being ready to integrate new strategies for environmentally sustainable agriculture together with a diverse set of stakeholders,” she stated.
Kalibata further divulged that CALA will initially offer a 16-month advanced leadership Programme themed Collaborative Leadership for Africa’s Food Security and Sustainability designed for established and emerging sector leaders spearheading priority country-level agriculture strategies.
Rebecca Harrison, chief executive officer and co-founder of AMI, one of the continent’s leading leadership and business management organisations and lead learning partner of the project, said the organisation is focused on developing practical leadership skills through its virtual and in-person platforms, which leaders across the agriculture sector can apply on the job and within policy processes. Harrison added that AMI’s learning approach, rooted in practical application rather than theory, will equip these leaders to better implement sector priorities, advance their careers and networks and become agents of change.
On his part, Steve Smith,Policy LINK’s chief of party, emphasised the importance of coaching as a core part of hands-on support for leaders in the sector. Effective leaders, according to him, marshal a range of actors to forge collaborative solutions to complex challenges, a skill that cannot be taught in the classroom alone,” Smith said.
Applications for the Centre’s first programme, the Advanced Leadership Programme are currently open with an application closing date of 26 May 2021. Accepted and enrolled participants will begin the programme in August of 2021. Over the first three-years, the programme is expected to have two cohorts with approximately 80 leaders each, bringing the total number of leaders to a minimum of 160. Initial cohorts will be composed of leaders from eight countries including: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.