Three Key Appointments on Food Systems Transformation 

Amid the challenges and opportunities in transforming Africa’s food systems in the face of climate change, biodiversity loss, and other shocks, three notable appointments were announced.

Dr. Elianne Ubalijoro

The Rwanda-born research scientist became the first African woman CEO of the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF).  

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, CIFOR-ICRAF harnesses the power of trees, forests, and agroforestry landscapes to address biodiversity loss, climate change, food security, livelihoods, and inequity. It is part of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR), a publicly-funded agricultural research partnership. 

Dr. Ubalijoro is keen to expand the use of high-resolution satellite data and artificial intelligence to strengthen CIFOR-ICRAF’s work. 

“I see CIFOR-ICRAF as a critical institution, poised to accelerate its research and impact, leading the way to achieve the 2030 goals by harnessing the potential of forestry and agroforestry to create ecosystems that generate prosperity, sustainably,” she said. 

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Dr. Simeon Ehui  

Dr. Simeon Ehui has been appointed the Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Regional Director for Continental Africa for the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR). 

Photo credit © IITA/ CGIAR

In this role effective August 1, 2023, Dr. Ehui will build on IITA and CGIAR’s scientific research and innovations to improve livelihoods, enhance food and nutrition security, increase employment, and preserve natural resources across Africa. 

A national of Côte d’Ivoire, he has over 30 years of experience in agriculture and sustainable development. He takes over from Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, who is retiring from IITA whose head office is in Ibadan, Nigeria.   

“Critical scientific research is essential as poverty, hunger, and climate and biodiversity crises are escalating. Africa needs to enhance its potential to feed itself and make its food systems more resilient to climate change. I see myself as a broker across research-for-development among scientists, policymakers, and economists and linking science with program implementation at the global, regional, and national levels,” he said.  

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Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki  

The African Union Commission (AUC) has appointed Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Niger, as its Special Envoy for Food Systems. Dr. Mayaki is also the former CEO of the African Union’s Development Agency, AUDA-NEPAD. 

Photo credit © AUDA-NEPAD

In a statement, AUC Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said the appointment will support Member States’ efforts with high-level advocacy and coordination in strengthening the resilience of Africa’s food systems amid rising food insecurity and hunger.  

“The role will work closely with the African Union Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment. Together they will lead and advise technical consultations leading to the launching of a Continental action plan for rolling out and integrating the Africa Common Position on Food Systems into new national agriculture investment and development plans,” read the AU statement.  

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