Youth Employment in Agriculture as a Solid Solution to ending Hunger and Poverty in Africa

Engaging through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Entrepreneurship

Speakers' biographies

Gerardine Mukeshimana

Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, RWANDA

Dr. Gerardine Mukeshimana is the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources of the Republic of Rwanda. As a Minister she is responsible for oversight of all agricultural and livestock related activities in the Country, charged with new policy formulation, oversight of implementation of existing policies, work with other ministries and development partners on issues that affect the agricultural sector especially land use and land management, trade, commerce, infrastructure, gender and youth employment.

Prior to that, Dr. Gerardine Mukeshimana worked at International Livestock Institute, MINAGRI, and the National University of Rwanda. She holds both PhD and Masters in Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology from Michigan State University.

José Graziano da Silva

Director-General, FAO

José Graziano da Silva has worked on food security, rural development, and agriculture issues for over 30 years, most notably as the architect of Brazil’s Zero Hunger (Fome Zero) programme and now as the Director-General of FAO. Graziano da Silva led the team that designed the Zero Hunger programme, and, in 2003, was charged by then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to implement the programme as Special Minister of Food Security and the Fight against Hunger. He headed the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean from 2006 to 2011.

Elected Director-General of FAO, he took up office on 1 January 2012. After his first term from 1 January 2012 to 31 July 2015, Graziano da Silva was re-elected for a second 4 year-term (1 August 2015 to 31 July 2019) with the votes of 177 countries during FAO's 39th Conference. At the helm of FAO, Graziano da Silva has sharpened the Organization’s strategic focus; and is strengthening its field presence. He is also working to instill a best value-for-money culture.

At the international level, he is working to build consensus on food security-related issues. He has also encouraged closer cooperation with development partners, supports South-South cooperation, and has increased collaboration with civil society and private sector entities, including farmer organizations and cooperatives for smallholder producers.

Graziano da Silva holds a Bachelor's Degree in Agronomy and a Master's Degree in Rural Economics and Sociology from the University of São Paulo (USP), and a Ph.D. in Economic Sciences from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP). He also has post-Doctorate Degrees in Latin American Studies (University College of London) and Environmental Studies (University of California, Santa Cruz).

LI Yong

Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

LI Young has had an extensive career as a senior economic and financial policy-maker. As Vice-Minister of Finance of the People’s Republic of China and member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank for a decade, Mr. Li was involved in setting and harmonizing fiscal, monetary and industrial policies, and in supporting sound economic growth in China. He pushed forward financial sector reform, and prompted major financial institutions to establish corporate governance, deal with toxic assets and strengthen risk management. Mr. Li gave great importance to fiscal and financial measures in favor of agricultural development and SMEs, the cornerstones for creating economic opportunities, reducing poverty and promoting gender equality. He played a key role in China’s cooperation with multilateral development organizations, such as the World Bank Group and the Asian Development Bank.

Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko

Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission (AUC)

.E. Madam Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, an Angolan national, is a leading African Agronomist. She was elected as the new Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission. Prior to that, She was a Special Adviser to two Ministers in Angola, her home country: the Angolan Minister of Environment where she also served as Ambassador responsible for Climate Change. In the Department of the minister of Agriculture Mme Sacko oversaw Food Security, Eradication of Hunger and Poverty Reduction. The former Secretary General of the Inter African Coffee Organization (IACO) for 13 years in Cote D’Ivoire where she represented Coffee economy for 25 African Coffee producing countries. During her tenure, she successfully advocated for the empowerment of small scale coffee farmers across the continent by setting up Regional Centres of Excellence for Capacity Building of Member States, on Genetic Material Conservation, Coffee Quality Improvement and Cup Tasting Liquor in Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Cameroon and Zambia. Madam Sacko is one of the African Women Africa should be proud of, and she has built up her international profile and reputation by working with Regional, Global Institutional on Agriculture and many other sectors supported by World Trade Organization (WTO), African Union (AU), International Coffee Organization (ICO), African Development Bank (AFDB), African Bank for Export and Import (AFREXIMBANK), (FAO), UNECA, NEPAD etc. The other notable cooperation/partnerships she has worked with include the Regional Economic Communities (RECS), namely, SADC, COMESA, ECOWAS and EAC, where she has actively participated to address the challenges encountered by small scale farmers in Africa, ensuring that they remain a central focus in regional and national policy making for development. Madam Sacko speaks fluent Portuguese, French, English, Spanish and Lingala.

Agnes M. Kalibata

President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)

As President of AGRA, Dr. Kalibata leads the organization’s efforts with public and private partners to ensure a food secure and prosperous Africa through rapid, sustainable agricultural growth, improving the productivity and livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers. Prior to joining AGRA in September 2014, Dr. Kalibata was Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI). In this role, she was widely considered to be one of the most successful Agriculture Ministers in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Kalibata has held several other leadership positions, including Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Deputy Vice Chancellor of University of Rwanda. She also worked for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Uganda, and various other agricultural development organizations. She sits on various boards, councils and commissions including the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, the Global Panel for Agriculture & Food Systems for Nutrition, the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum, the Malabo-Montpellier Panel, the International Fertilizer Development Corporation (IFDC), Bioversity International, Africa Risk Capacity. Dr. Kalibata has a distinguished track record as an agricultural scientist, policy maker and thought leader.

She holds a doctorate in Entomology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Paul Winters

Associate Vice-President of the Strategy and Knowledge Department

Paul Winters is the Associate Vice-President of the Strategy and Knowledge Department at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Previously he was the Director of Research and Impact Assessment (RIA). From 2004-2015, Winters was a professor in the Department of Economics at American University in Washington, DC where he taught courses on impact evaluation, development economics and environmental economics. Before American University, he worked at the Inter-American Development Bank, the University of New England, and the International Potato Center. He has published numerous journal articles in the areas of impact evaluation, migration, cash transfer programs, rural development and smallholder agriculture. Winters holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.A. in Economics from the University of California at San Diego and a B.A. in Non-Western Studies from the University of San Diego.

Saleh Usman Gashua

Secretary General, Chief advocate and coordinator of rural and agricultural finance in Africa at the Africa Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA)

Mr. Saleh Usman Gashua holds a Master of Science degree in Agriculture from Tuskegee University, Alabama, USA. He has considerable experience spanning decades in inclusive finance at local, regional, and international level. Prior to his appointment as the Secretary General of AFRACA, Mr. Saleh last served as the Head of Credit (Bank wide) of Bank of Agriculture (BOA) having previously served in various capacities as, Head, Special projects and a one-time Zonal Manager, North Eastern Nigeria. From a humble beginning as operations officer with the then Nigerian Agricultural, Cooperative and Rural Development Bank (NACRDB) now Bank of Agriculture (BOA), to the peak of his professional career at International stage as the Secretary General, Chief advocate and coordinator of rural and agricultural finance in Africa at the Africa Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA).

Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong

Director of Programme Implementation and Coordination at the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency

Mrs Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong is the Director of Programme Implementation and Coordination at the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency). In May 2014 and July 2016, she 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. Mrs Fotabong 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 NEPAD Agency, Mrs Fotabong was the UNEP Country Liaison Officer for South Africa and the Senior Environment 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. She has a Master’s Degree in Law and another Master’s Degree in International Affairs, specialising in International Policy and Practice.

Andrew Rugege

Regional Director for Africa, based in Addis Ababa. He is also the ITU Representative to the African Union Commission (AUC) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

Andrew Rugege, a veteran in the Information Technology field is currently the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Regional Director for Africa, based in Addis Ababa. He is also the ITU Representative to the African Union Commission (AUC) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) both in Ethiopia. He is responsible for collaboration with and technical assistance to ITU Members in Africa and believes that by putting ITU’s resources and expertise at the disposal of its Members, Telecommunications/ICT can become the backbone of Africa’s knowledge-based socio-economic development. Andrew leads ITU teams that provide Members States with advice and expertise in Telecommunications/ICT Policy, Regulation, Infrastructure, Innovation and others. He is passionate about Youth Empowerment, Innovation and sustainable development though ICTs and the harnessing Africa’s vast resources. Andrew’s broad experience in the Telecommunications/ICT sector spans over private and public sectors as well as Academia. He holds advanced degrees in Engineering and, Computer Information Systems and Business Administration.

Beryl Agengo

Executive Coordinator, Global African Agribusiness Accelerator Platform (GAAAP)

Ms. Beryl Agengo is the Executive Coordinator: GAAAP at Africa Business Group. She is responsible for Global African Agribusiness Accelerator Platform (GAAAP) as well as the country program initiatives and the recommendations for adoption contained therein. Prior to joining ABG, Beryl worked with the Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) in coordinating the annual African Green Revolution Forum from 2010 – 2017, helping to organize seven forums in seven different countries. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, she is passionate about Africa and the youth and brings with her over 13 years’ experience in Agribusiness events management, logistics, and operations. Beryl holds a Bsc degree in Leadership and Management from Strathmore University and is currently pursuing an MBA at the University of Northampton.

Ernest Ruzindaza

Head of CAADP Program at African Union Commission

Over 15 years’ experience in the agriculture sector growing from project coordinator to the most senior government civil servant position, Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources in Rwanda held for almost 7 years. Currently leading the CAADP Program at African Union Commission. Specialized in Agricultural Policies and Agricultural Institution Development. MSc in Rural Economic Development at Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech-University of Liège, Belgium.

Dieudonne Twahirwa

Professional Horticulture farmer and Founder of Gashora Farm Ltd

Dieudonné Twahirwa is professional Horticulture farmer who mostly farms Chilli and is the founder of Gashora Farm Ltd. He has contracts with about 1000 farmers who he buys Chilli from for export and Chilli Processing. Born in 1988, he has a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness and a Post-Graduate diploma in Entrepreneurship from Regent University (USA). He is also the Vice chairman of Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness forum (RYAF). Before starting his own company, he had a brief stint at Horizon Sopyrwa in 2013, where he realized he had more passion in actual farming and chose to quit and pursue his dream. He started with growing different horticultural produce before eventually venturing into Chilli farming as he realized that there was a gap in the market. Apart from exporting the Chilli to International markets such as UK, India and Belgium, Gashora reduces loss by processing the 2nd grade Chilli not fit for export into Chilli Oil. The product, Didi’s Chilli Oil, is sold in both Local and International Market including, Switzerland, UK, USA, Kenya and Hungary.

Giacomo Rambaldi

Senior Programme Coordinator ICTs at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) in Wageningen, Netherlands

iacomo Rambaldi is Senior Programme Coordinator ICTs at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) in Wageningen, Netherlands. He has 36 years of professional experience in Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean where he worked for various international organizations including FAO and the Asian Development Bank and on projects funded by the Italian Aid to Development and the European Commission. He holds a degree in agricultural sciences from the State University of Milan, Italy. At present he is member of the ICT for Agriculture (ICT4Ag) team at CTA and is coordinating a stream of activities related to the deployment of drone technology in agriculture. Giacomo has been leading Web 2.0 and Social Media capacity building activities at CTA and earned worldwide recognition for his work as recipient of the 2013 WSIS Project Prize in the category E-Agriculture. In the past he also lead activities in the domain of participatory GIS. One of his projects earned CTA the 2007 World Summit Award in the category e-culture. In collaboration with other members of the ICT4Ag team at CTA, Giacomo animates large thematic Communities of Practice which underpin CTA’s work on ICT4Ag.

Henry Mibei

Operations Manager Mobile, Africa

Henry Mibei has expertise in telecommunications with over 8 years of work experience in mobile industry, mobile value added service sector and Information and communications technology (ICT). He is the Operations Manager - Mobile, Africa at CABI, where he oversees a number of CABI’s digital and ICT initiatives on agriculture that focus on supporting farmers and extension workers. He works closely with CABI knowledge management team and key stakeholders who include mobile operators, extension services and industry bodies to provide mobile advisory services and deliver critical information-based agricultural services directly to rural smallholder farmers in over 10 countries in Africa through ICT-based channels. Henry is also championing CABI's initiatives and approaches that engage the youths and women in agriculture, including climate smart agriculture approaches and processes. Henry is a trained telecommunication engineer holding a BSc. in Telecommunications Engineering and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Makerere University and University of South Wales respectively.

Kouatcha Simo Flavien

Founder & Chief Farming Officer, Save Our Agriculture

Flavien is one of the young Africans of the new generation that nothing can stop. Coming from a modest family in the western Cameroonian rural area, his ultimate leitmotiv as an entrepreneur is to strongly believe in his dreams as the first step to realize them and reach his goals. Placing the human person at the center of his personal and global development, Flavien wants to train other people with him in his growth. He held these values from his earliest childhood when he started his first business at the age of 13 (that was a non-alcoholic beverage sales depot) and subsequently acquired a laundromat Cars 3 years later. These various steps gave him an advanced business sense. Engineer in 2011 at the end of his time at UCAC-ICAM Institute, he worked for 3 years in a multinational based in Cameroon before resigning to do what he is passionate about, run a sustainable farm business and participate in improving the life of his fellow men and women. Flavien is also very active in associative life as National Vice-President of the Junior Chamber International in Cameroon, founding member of "Green & Livable", an association created in 2014 to popularize the sustainable development goals and bring back youth into agricultural professions. And more recently, he was appointed as co-president of an association of the 12 most dynamic AgTech start-ups of his country.

Kwesi Atta Krah PhD.

Director, Country Alignment and Systems Integration, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)

Dr. Kwesi Atta Krah, a Ghana national, is currently Director, Country Alignment and Systems Integration, at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) - a position he assumed in January 2017. Prior to this, 2013 to December 2016, he was Executive Director of Humidtropics - the CGIAR research program on Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics, based at IITA Ibadan. Between June 2005 and January 2013, Dr. Atta-Krah was Deputy Director General of Bioversity International, a CGIAR center focused on Agricultural Biodiversity, based in Rome Italy. Earlier, he had worked with International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI); International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA) – now ILRI: and with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA.

Michael Sudarkasa

CEO, Africa Business Group (ABG)

Mr. Michael Sudarkasa is the CEO of Africa Business Group (ABG), a South Africa based continentally active, African economic development company. ABG’s focus is to expand private sector participation in Africa’s development agenda – particularly in the sectoral areas of agriculture, renewable energy and the business tourism sector. Since 2016, ABG has been developing and manages the Global African Agribusiness Accelerator Platform (GAAAP) as the company’s principal capacity development initiative. A U.S. commercial attorney by training, Michael has lived, travelled, and worked in 50 countries around the world (including 35 in Africa) and is the author of several publications, including: The African Union Commission’s Africa Business Directory: Toward the Facilitation of Growth, Partnership and Global Inclusion (African Union, 2014), A Field Guide to Inclusive Business Finance (UNDP 2012) and Investing in Africa: An Insider’s Guide to the Ultimate Emerging Market (John Wiley & Sons, August 2000). He holds a B.A. degree from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (High Honors in History), a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School, and is currently pursuing is PhD in Management of Technology (his research focus is on accelerating private investment in productive use focused mini-grids in Africa) at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Olawale, Rotimi Opeyemi

Founder and CEO of JR Farms Limited

Olawale, Rotimi Opeyemi is a leading African agripreneur, recognized young leader in Africa’s agric sector and international speaker who has addressed global audience at high level meetings of various institutions such as The Com-monwealth, Harvard University, African Union, African Development Bank among others. He is a resource person on African Agribusiness and Rural Entrepreneur-ship at Suffolk University, Boston, America.

He is the founder and CEO of JR Farms Limited (registered in Nigeria and Rwan-da), a leading agribusiness in Africa determined to transform Agriculture in Africa by undertaking opportunities for growth and business that will engender sus-tainable food production and increased incomes for farmers in Africa. JR Farms has agribusiness operations in Nigeria (Cassava value chain), Rwanda (Coffee val-ue chain), and Ivory Coast (Cocoa Value Chain) respectively.

Olawale champions agric initiatives with social impacts such as Inmates Farming Scheme- first of such in history of Nigerian Prisons; low interest farmers’ coopera-tives supporting 93 farmers in Nigeria and over 500 cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast. Through his initiatives in the agric sector in Africa, he has created over 300 jobs

Mignonne Karugu

Chief Operations Officer, Africa Business Group

Ms. Mignonne Karugu is the Chief Operations Officer of Africa Business Group (ABG), a South Africa based continentally active, African economic development company. In addition to managing the internal operations of ABG, Mignonne leads the firms work related to the facilitation of international trade and investment missions with ABG’s Italy and Germany based partner. She was instrumental in the founding of GAAAP and the coordination of the Firm’s four year role as Program Director for the African Green Revolution Forum. Her professional experience before joining ABG was in airport services, entertainment, technology and digital marketing with Endemol, Cisco, Blue Star Digital, SITA and Equant/ Orange. She is currently completing her MBA at Hult International in Dubai.

Ruramiso Mashumba

Young farmer and Founder of Mnandi Africa

Ruramiso Mashumba is a young woman farmer in Marondera. She holds a BA Degree in Agriculture Business Management from the University of West England (UWE) upon completing a degree in Agriculture Business Management, Ruramiso worked for one of United Kingdom's leading agriculture equipment companies. It was during that time Ruramiso realized how the use of equipment and technology could transform agriculture. Upon her return to Zimbabwe she committed herself to transform the image of agriculture.

Shumei Lam

Founder and Managing Director of Poultry East Africa Ltd (PEAL)

Shumei Lam is the founder and Managing Director of Poultry East Africa Ltd (PEAL), Rwanda’s largest commercial poultry farm. Shumei first visited Rwanda with her father in 2011. Whilst there, they realised that chicken meat was the most expensive meat in the market due to lack of supply, and because of this, people could only afford to consume chicken on special occasions. PEAL was established to provide a sustainable solution to this problem - as a social impact investment, with the objective of providing affordable and accessible meat proteins to a growing population. Armed with zero experience in agricultural or veterinary science, Shumei set off in 2012 to build the first modern farm in Rwanda. PEAL which started as a 100% greenfield project, has now been operating for 3 years and is the largest player, commanding over 70% share of the poultry meat market.

Shumei holds a Bachelor of Communications from RMIT and a Master in Management from IE Business School, Madrid. She is also the Principal of Azul World, a Singapore based investment holding company.

Walter Hevi

Project Manager, Sanitary and Phytosanitary in Horticulture - FDOV Project (CABI)

Walter is the Project Manager SPS in Horticulture on the FDOV project at CABI that is Strengthening the horticulture sector in Ghana to enhance exports to the European Union (EU) He has over 15 years experience in Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) development, Good Agricultural Practices, Value Chain Analysis, Traceability and Certification systems. He’s currently spearheading efforts aimed at developing phytosanitary systems and partnerships by working with responsible public institutions to provide regulations, protocols and standard operating procedures and involving private institutions and youth in vegetable production in the implementation of innovative technologies in agriculture production, postharvest handling and phytosanitary surveillance. Prior to joining CABI Walter has been instrumental in training farmers including the youth in agriculture and other value chain actors in the promotion of good agricultural practices, postharvest handling and adoption of farming as a business and source of livelihood. Most notable are his contributions to smallholder development initiatives under the USAID/ Ghana Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) project and the USAID/Trade and Investment Programme for Competitive Export Economy projects respectively. Walter holds a B.Sc. in Agricultural Science and M.Phil in Postharvest Technology from University of Cape Coast and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana respectively.

Alemayehu Konde Koira

Country Representative, Rwanda, Mastercard Foundation.

Alemayehu represents the Mastercard Foundation in Rwanda and leads the development and execution of programs to address the challenge of youth employment including the Hanga Ahazaza and Leaders in Teaching Initiatives. Alemayehu has more than 20 years’ experience in a variety of international non-governmental, donor and academic organizations within the international development field. Prior to his appointment as Country Representative, Alemayehu managed a portfolio of the Foundation’s Youth Livelihoods Program with a focus on youth employment, entrepreneurship, skills development, social and financial education and agriculture.

Before joining the Foundation, Alemayehu worked for Plan International in different capacities based out of its headquarters, U.K., South Africa covering Eastern and Southern Africa Region and in Tanzania. Alemayehu holds a Bachelor of Science from Alemaya University of Agriculture, Ethiopia and a Master of Agriculture Economics from Reading University, UK.

Worlali Senyo

Senior Consultant, Corporate services team at Farmerline

Worlali Senyo is a Senior Consultant with the Corporate services team at Farmerline. He manages client and partner relationships by organising meetings and doing presentations to sell Farmerline’s services. He is also a member of the Growth, Research and Development committee at Farmerline. Before joining the Farmerline team, Worlali worked at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA). He has over 10 years experience in the field of Agriculture, and ICTs relating to mobile technologies for rural development. His experience is focused on project planning, design, implementation, and M&E. He holds a Master's degree in ICTs for Development from the University of Manchester, UK and a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture science from the University of Ghana.