The session discusses the potential of African regional markets. The session highlights successes from SMEs and Smallholders.
Innovations Session N°4
Reconciling local and global food systems
Strengthening food systems must be an integral part of efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and to build resilience in Africa towards more sustainable and equitable ways to transform African agriculture.
While the magnitude of the issues needed to transition to sustainable food systems requires global solutions, changes and practices are local and country specific. Tradeoffs between local and global food systems need to be reached as there is not one single solution in overly complex and interdependent systems. What matters is how food is produced, processed, consumed and the role it plays for the people and the planet.
To move towards a sustainable food systems approach, managing change breaking silos and leveraging resources, as well as measuring impact, will be critical. The private sector operators need support to transition towards sustainable economies which require to change food diets and reduce food waste.
The farmers, fishers and other operators in the food chain who have already undergone the transition to sustainable practices, be in local or global markets, should be rewarded as to encourage the transition by others, and create additional opportunities for their businesses.
Increased fairness and equity along the value chains is required to succeed in transitioning towards sustainable food systems. A fair and transparent policy (open communication, fair prices, risk sharing) promoting more transparency along supply chains and better distribution of value is needed. Capacity development is key, especially for farmers groups and MSMEs, and providing support to operators in meeting required economic, social and environmental standards.
Key points for discussion on sustainable food systems
- How African MSMEs and farmers organisations can transition towards sustainable practices and what support do they need based on the obstacles they face?
- What incentives can be provided to smallholders and MSMEs to adopt sustainable practices?
- What main investments and incentives from the public and private sector can accelerate the transition towards sustainable practices?
- How to reconcile investments by the MSMEs and farmers in sustainable food systems with the imperative of economic returns and access to new markets?
Join our Agrinnovators community forum to discuss and explore how to encourage innovations across agricultural value chains to transform food systems in Africa, promote sustainable agriculture, and leverage investment. Share insights, ask questions, and collaborate on innovative solutions for a greener future
Fatma BEN REJEB
CEO, Pan-African Farmers Organization (PAFO)
Fatma Ben Rejeb has been working with farmers’ organisations for more than 20 years. She began her involvement in land and legal affairs with farmers and their grassroots organisations. Subsequently, she held the administrative and financial management, and later the international cooperation and the partnership management at the Tunisian National Farmers Organization. She has been Director of the North African Farmers’ Network (UMNAGRI). Fatma holds a Diploma of Advanced Studies in Political Science, a Masters in Juridical Sciences and a Certificate of Specialised Studies in Political and International Studies. She is fluent in Arabic, French, English, Italian and basic knowledge in Spanish.
Head of Networks and Alliances, COLEACD
Isolina Boto is the Head of Networks and Alliances at COLEAD, a non-profit Association of private sector operators in the agrifood sector active in the EU, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) regions. Isolina has more than 25 years of experience in agricultural development. She started her career with the European Commission and has also worked with various ACP embassies and NGOs in areas related to food security, rural development and trade. Before joining COLEAD, she was the Manager of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) Brussels Office (2004-2020) implementing policy initiatives related to the ACP-EU cooperation in the field of agricultural and rural development. She has led agribusiness projects in support of capacity development of SMEs, entrepreneurs and farmers organisations across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
President, SYMABIO, Madagascar
Gaëtan Etancelin has 19 years of experience in the organic sector and is an expert in organic certification. He is the Administrative Director of the Malagasy family business Huilerie Melville Groupe Savonnerie Tropicale.SA and National Vice-President of the Entrepreneurship and Youth Commission within the Groupement du Patronat Malagasy (FIV.MPA.MA) since 2020. He was elected Vice-President of the Malagasy Union of Organic Agriculture (SYMABIO) in 2015 and President in 2017 and 2019. He is a founding member of the first private Training Centre for Rural Animator Technicians in the Atsinanana Region in 2009, as well as of the first business incubator in Tamatave and of the network of organic organisations in East Africa (IFOAM Southern Africa Network), which includes 11 countries since 2020. He contributed to the adoption of the Malagasy regulation on organic agriculture in 2020 and to the drafting and adoption of the Swiss organic palm oil specifications as a member of the “Organic Palm Oil Task Force” for the BIOSUISSE certification from 2018 to 2021. He is also an active member of the Agora des Paysages et des Forêts de Madagascar initiative of the Think Tank INDRI (Initiative for Development, Ecological Restoration and Innovation).
Director, Programme Innovation and Planning, NEPAD Agency
Mrs Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong is the Director of Programme Innovation and Planning at the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD [New Partnership for Africa’s Development]). She received award of recognition from the Government of Egypt in February 2020, for her support to Africa’s development and women empowerment. In May 2014 and July 2016, Mrs Fotabong received Honorary Awards from the Governments of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Republic of Cameroon respectively, for her passion, dedication and leadership towards advancing equality and empowerment of African women. She also received special recognition in 2015 by Top Women in Business & Government (a leading corporate publication in Africa); acknowledging her work as one of the Top women in Agriculture Policy on the continent.
Before her appointment as Director at the AUDA-NEPAD, Mrs Fotabong was the UNEP (UN Environment Programme) Country Liaison Officer for South Africa and the Senior Environment and Tourism Adviser to the NEPAD Secretariat. Previously she held several positions including: Assistant Lecturer in Law at the University of Soa, Yaoundé, Cameroon; Director of Policy and Strategy; WWF Central African Regional Programme Office, Biodiversity and NEPAD Programme Officer with UNEP-DGEF (Division of Global Environment Facility Coordination).
She has a Master’s Degree in Law and another Master’s Degree in International Affairs, specialising in International Policy and Practice. Mrs Fotabong has served on several panels and international steering committees for various projects. Mrs Fotabong has co-authored several publications relating to Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental Law and Development Policy. She has extensive global travel experience, through serving in various portfolios.
Executive Director, Smallholders Foundation, ColdHubs, Nigeria
Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu is a farmer and community radio agricultural presenter. He is the founder and Executive Director of Smallholders Foundation Ltd. /Gte, created in 2003 at the age of 21. The Foundation uses its Smallholder Farmers Rural Radio (FARM F.M) Network to reach an estimated 250,000 farmers with daily messages about agriculture, environmental management and market access, as well as educational messages. Since 2015, he is the founder and CEO of ColdHubs Limited (www.coldhubs.com), a social business that designs, installs and commissions 100% solar powered walk-in cold rooms in farms and marketplaces, to enable smallholder farmers, retailers and wholesalers to store and preserve fresh fruits, vegetables and other perishable food 24/7 extending the shelf life from 2 days to 21 days. ColdHubs aims to eliminate the food spoilage due to the lack of small-scale post-harvest infrastructure which is globally faced by 470 million smallholder farmers, as well as to increase the income of farmers and retailers.
Nnaemeka is one of Nigeria’s most prominent young agriculturist : he is, among others, an Ashoka Fellow 2008, Laureate of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise 2010, Laureate WISE Awards 2010, Future Awards Nigeria’s Young Person of the Year 2011, Fast Company USA 100 Most Creative in Business 2012, Laureate of the Niigata International Food Prize, Japan 2012 and 2013, Laureate of the Yara Prize for Green Revolution in Africa (now Africa Food Prize).
General Manager, Kati Farms, Uganda
Lovin Kobusingye is a vibrant businesswoman, holds a Bachelor of Science in food science and technology degree and a Master’s in Business Administration. She is the co-founder and CEO of Kati Farms Ltd based in Kampala, Uganda, a company which employs 38 permanent staff of which 23 are women. For over ten years, she, her two partners and nearly a thousand other fish farmers, have worked on fish processing and value addition. At the same time, she has persistently lobbied the government to support women-led entrepreneurship through an enabling policy framework designed to protect women in fisheries activities both in Uganda and, at a higher level, throughout Africa. She is the President of the Eastern Africa Women and Youth in Fisheries and Aquaculture Network (AWFISHNET EA) that includes representation from 11 Eastern Africa countries, the Treasurer of the African Women Fish Processors and Traders Network (AWFISHNET), the Investment Committee Vice Chairperson-ENABLE YOUTH Program Uganda and a National Technical Committee Member-Uganda National Bureau of standards (UNBS TC 211) Fish and Fishery products. She won the Africa Agribusiness Innovator of the Year Award in 2012. She also has been recognized by the Rabobank Foundation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Market Research Centre (EMRC) for her innovative solutions to solving challenges of postharvest losses in the fisheries sector in Africa.
Pierre Damien MBATEZIMANA
Managing Director, Shekina Enterprise, Rwanda
Pierre Damien Mbatezimana is the Founder and Managing Director of Shekina Enterprise. He holds a diploma in Accounting and Management, started his career in accounting for Caisse d’Epargne du Rwanda and later as a Finance Manager for consulting company Sopres.
Shekina Enterprise is a Rwandan pioneer company in the cassava industry which manufactures dried and instant cassava leaf products for both local and export markets. Drought-resistant, fresh cassava leaves are a staple in the East African diet, but take hours to cook and expire quickly. By drying and packaging them, Shekina Enterprise has increased the sales price for cassava leaves, creating greater economic value for the women who farm and package them. The cassava waste is processed as an organic fertiliser, another product sold by Shekina Enterprise’s women employees.
Chief Investment Officer, IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative
Roel Messie is Chief Investment Officer of IDH Trade and director of the IDH Innovative Finance team. He played an instrumental role in the development of the Farmfit Fund, a blended finance fund aimed at improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. He helped design fund structure, investment strategy and governance. He engaged with both public and private investors. From 2001 to 2017, he occupied varied positions at the Dutch development finance institution (FMO). He was a Senior Investment Officer and oversaw FMO private equity investments in Latin America. Then he served for six years as director of Special Operations for FMO, oversaw the workout and recovery of a number of projects and served as a member of the Advisory Committees of two multi-billion dollar. He concluded his career at FMO as director of FMO Public Investment where he oversaw Government-funded investment funds, as well as government supported projects in emerging markets using public funds of The Netherlands and the European Union.
Member of the Advisory Committee for the 2021 Food Systems Summit and President of PAFO
Elizabeth is a Ugandan young agripreneur, President of the Pan Africa Farmers Organization (PAFO) and the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF). She is a member of the United Nations Advisory Committee for The Secretary General’s Food Systems Summit 2021, a task force member for AU- EU Cooperation in Agriculture, sits on the Global steering committee for Forest Farm Facility (FFF), serves on the board of Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), is a Governing Council member for Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism (AFFM), member of the steering committee of Pan Africa Agribusiness Chamber (PAAAC) and a board member for ACTESA/COMESA. She also serves on a number of National and local farmers’ and cooperative platforms. Elizabeth is a passionate cooperator and farmer who has been at the fore front of championing digitalization of the agriculture sector through the EAFF farmers’ owned E-granary mobile initiative that virtually aggregates farmers for input, services and output markets. As a result of her efforts and support to Farmers Organizations, she was globally recognized by the World Farmers Organization as one of the women contributing to sustainable development.
CEO, SACAU and Member of the UNFSS Food Systems Champions Network
A Zimbabwean national, Ishmael holds a BSc (Economics) degree and has post-graduate qualifications, including in MSc (Strategic Management). He has more than 30 years’ wide-ranging experience in agriculture and rural development, including in policy research and advocacy, as well as development management. Apart from southern Africa where he is based, he has also worked in the UK and undertaken assignments in other parts of Africa and Asia (India, Bangladesh and Sri-Lanka).
He became the CEO of SACAU in 2005, two years after the establishment of its permanent regional secretariat. He has since established SACAU as the voice of farmers of southern Africa, a brand which is visible at regional and global levels, and is associated with good corporate governance, professionalism and high standards of development management. He has spearheaded the organisation’s work in several key areas, including digital solutions; climate change management; the development of a new generation of farmers and of farmers’ organisations; systems management and multi-stakeholder approaches, and value-chain cooperation.
He serves in various capacities on structures of several continental and global institutions and initiatives, such as the United Nations Food Systems Summit, the World Economic Forum, African Union/NEPAD, AGRA, Montpellier Malabo Panel of Experts, Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU), CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Generation Africa and the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification.
His ambition is to establish SACAU as a farmers’ organisation development and policy think tank and innovation centre aimed at addressing systemic agricultural development matters with the farmers’ lens, including issues to do with fundamental values and principles relating to equity, fairness, transparency, inclusion and voice.
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