The Africa Food Systems Forum, known as AGRF, stands as the foremost platform dedicated to propelling the agricultural and food systems’ objectives across the African continent. Encircling issues ranging from ensuring food security to fostering advancements in agri-food practices, this annual Summit serves as a gathering point for influential figures, policymakers, scientists, governmental leaders, private organizations, farmers, and the youth engaged in agriculture and food systems.
The annual Summit convenes policymakers, expert leaders in various agricultural fields, scientists, heads of state and private sector and public sector, farmers, and the youth in the agriculture and food systems landscape to discuss and agree on practical actions and solutions that drive Africa’s food security and better livelihoods for all.
This year, held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from September 04-08, 2023, the Summit themed, “Recover, Regenerate, Act: Africa’s Solutions to Food Systems Transformation,” was anchored around building Africa’s Food Systems and food sovereignty with the youth and women at the centre.
This annual forum offered AWARD a platform to highlight how gender-responsive agricultural policies and initiatives can effectively bridge gender disparities within agri-food systems.
We also leveraged the platform to pre-launch the AWARD Strategy (2023-2027), which underscores our continued commitment to equitable agri-food systems that equally benefit men and women smallholders.
At this event, AWARD;
Ms. Dina Esposito is the Assistant to the Administrator for the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security (RFS) at USAID, Feed the Future Deputy Coordinator for Development, and the Agency’s Global Food Crisis Coordinator. Her area of focus surrounds the challenges of delivering relief and development assistance in fragile and conflict-affected states. She has worked to advance collective action and multi-disciplinary solutions to complex challenges. She has over 10 years of experience in economic development (with a focus on agriculture and youth employment), food security, water security, and conflict and governance. Previously, she served as the Vice President for Technical Leadership at Mercy Corps (MC) and the Director of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace. Ms. Esposito holds a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, School for Advanced International Studies and a Bachelor’s degree from Williams College.
Dr. Nicoline de Haan is the Director of the CGIAR GENDER Impact Platform and a senior researcher with more than 15 years of expertise in gender, rural livelihoods, agriculture, and natural resource management. She previously served as the leader of the gender team at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and has also worked with the CGIAR program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Dr. Nicoline holds a PhD in Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri, Colombia, USA.
Dr. Susan Kaaria is the Director of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). She has over 20 years of experience in international development, working with various organizations promoting gender equality and women empowerment in agriculture. Before joining AWARD, Dr. Kaaria was the Team Leader for Gender at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome, Italy. She was also a Program Officer at the Ford Foundation Office for Eastern Africa, managing a diverse portfolio of grants to expand livelihood opportunities for poor households in Eastern Africa. Dr. Kaaria has also worked as a Senior Scientist and Senior Research Fellow at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. Dr. Kaaria holds a Ph.D. in Natural Resource Economics from the University of Minnesota, a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Economics from Iowa State University in the USA, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture from the University of Eastern Africa in Kenya.
Dr. Nomathemba Mhlanga (Noma) is an Agribusiness Officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). She is also the Programme Manager for FAO’s regional programme on decent employment in agrifood systems in Africa. Dr. Nomathemba leads the organization’s normative and field programme on agribusiness and value chain development in the Eastern Africa sub-region, including post-harvest management and agricultural finance and investment. Her work area also encompasses support to entrepreneurship and decent employment opportunities, especially for youth and women, ending child labour in agriculture, and tackling distress migration. Dr. Mhlanga holds a PhD in Applied Economics and Management, an MSc Degree in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University, USA and a BSc Honours Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Zimbabwe.
Ms. Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli is an expert on food ecosystems, entrepreneurship, social innovation, and youth development. She has over 25 years of international development experience and is the founder of LEAP Africa, Changing Narratives Africa and African Food Changemakers. She is also the co-founder of Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition Ltd. and AACE Foods Processing & Distribution Ltd. Ndidi serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), AGRA, and Nigerian Breweries Plc. (Heineken), Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. India, Stanbic IBTC Group, the Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum, and the Bridgespan Group. Ndidi holds an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree with honours from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She was a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business & Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, a visiting Scholar at Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University, an Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow, and an Eisenhower Fellow.
Ms. Ann Vaughan works in USAID’s Bureau for the Resilience and Food Security (RFS) as a Senior Advisor for Climate Change. Ms. Ann co-leads the implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE) and works across RFS to integrate climate considerations across food, water and nutrition programming. Before joining USAID, she worked at Mercy Corps as a field officer for USAID in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as a Congressional staffer working on foreign aid appropriations and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua. She holds a Master’s in International Development Studies from George Washington University and an Undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary.
Ms. Amsale Mengistu works as a Senior Programme Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). She is responsible for developing and adjusting the foundation’s Agricultural Development strategy for Ethiopia and developing and managing a portfolio of grants in collaboration with Ethiopia- and Seattle-based teams to achieve the Agricultural Development goals and targets in Ethiopia. Ms. Amsale has strong experience in strategy development and program implementation, focusing on the food system, policy, global health, governance, and local institution strengthening, always seeking to be as impactful as possible with precious resources.
Dr. Lilian Kirimi is a Senior Research Fellow at Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development in Kenya, where she is the senior value chain and gender specialist. Her research specialization spans agricultural finance, production economics, economic development and institutional economics. Kirimi holds a P.h.D in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University.
Dr. Edidah Ampaire is a Senior Program Specialist working
with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). She is passionate about research for development work around gender equality and inclusive policy and translating knowledge to influence policy change and benefit vulnerable end-users, especially women and girls. Before joining IDRC, Dr. Edidah worked at the CGIAR, researching gender in agricultural policy,
climate change adaptation and farmer-based organizations. Dr. Edidah holds a PhD in Rural Development from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, an MSc. in Agricultural Extension Education and a BSc. in Agriculture from Makerere University, Uganda.
H.E. Ambassador Gabriel Ferrero is currently serving as Ambassador at Large for Global Food Security at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of the
Government of Spain. He was the former Director General for Sustainable Development Policies from 2018 to 2021. In this position, he was the lead author and strategist of the 2030
Agenda Implementation Action Plan of Spain, coordinating the Spanish Voluntary National Review at the High-Level Political Forum. H.E. Ambassador Gabriel Ferrero is an engineer by training. He holds a nationally awarded P.h.D in development planning and management. With field-level experience at project, program and policy levels in agriculture, rural development and renewable energy in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Morocco, and Argentina, he has been an advisor to national and subnational governments, social movements and NGOs on rural development planning, management
and sustainable development policies.
Prof. Sanni Oladimeji Lateef is a Food Science and Technology Professor and Dean of the College of Food Science and Human Ecology, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria. He is also the chairperson of the AWARD Steering Committee. He has over 25 years of experience in research, consultancy and collaborations as a postharvest expert on tropical root crops, mostly in West Africa, coupled with missions to Latin America, Asia, Europe and other parts of Africa, mostly implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Root Crop and Natural Resources Institute, UK, respectively.
Ms. Anne Obize is an exceptional Master of Ceremonies trained and certified by Talkademy, a premier institute for master of ceremonies. She has worked with several brands, including TEDx Sulieja, TEDx Gwarinpa, Africa Women Summit Kigali, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), and National Youth Peace Summit. She is a Transformational Speaker, Author, Brand Communication Strategist, and Personal Development Coach.
Ms. Dorine Odongo is a strategic communications leader and a development strategist with 15 years of experience working at the interface of science-policy-practice in agricultural research and development. She heads communications at African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), where she coordinates various work streams to design and deliver successful partnerships and interventions to ensure consistent communication and engagement that amplifies AWARD’s profile and visibility. She is passionate about inspiring development partners to act toward more equitable and inclusive leadership and leveraging the power of evidence to drive social change and inclusive growth. Dorine served on the Food System Vision Prize judges committee and is a board member of the Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies (KENDAT). Dorine started her career as an agricultural researcher designing and implementing research projects investigating farmers’ adoption of technologies. She holds a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Information and Communication Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences from The University of Nairobi.
African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). Hosted by World Agroforestry Centre, United Nations Avenue, Gigiri. P.O Box 30677-00100 Nairobi, Kenya.
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