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Heifer International Banks on Innovation to Boost Africa’s Food Systems

Heifer International Banks on Innovation to Boost Africa's Food Systems

Heifer International has appealed to key stakeholders within Africa’s agriculture sector to intensify their support for youth-led innovations, the adoption of technology, and the formation of strategic partnerships.

These initiatives are designed to strengthen smallholder farmers and local communities, ultimately leading to increased incomes and catalysing a significant transformation in the food systems across the continent.

What’s more, this call to action was made by Heifer International during this year’s Africa Food Systems Forum, previously known as AGRF. 

The organisation actively hosted side events, facilitated networking forums, and took part in numerous panels that focused on discussions centred around innovative solutions for advancing agriculture in Africa.

In addition, the AGRF 2023, scheduled from September 4 to 8 in Dar es Salaam, serves as the preeminent gathering in Africa for stakeholders in agriculture to convene and collaboratively establish strategies to revolutionise food systems and eliminate hunger.

This year’s summit drew more than 3,000 participants from over 70 nations. It featured the active engagement of over 350 experts and policymakers who deliberated with stakeholders on methods for Africa to enhance its food systems, placing particular emphasis on empowering youth and women as central figures.

Heifer International Push for Innovation

Besides, for nearly five decades, Heifer International has been partnering with farmers and communities in Africa, working tirelessly to assist them in constructing sustainable and resilient food systems. 

“Our profound experience of partnering with smallholder farmers and communities has provided us with a unique perspective – one that harnesses the innovation and energy of young innovators, alongside the limitless potential of technology, to craft scalable and enduring agritech solutions tailored to the unique needs of smallholder farmers. 

“The impact of these have been transformative – driving heightened productivity, amplified incomes for farmers, job creation, unlocking commercial capital fostering agripreneurs, and elevating the capabilities of our food systems.” Adesuwa Ifedi, Senior Vice President, Africa Programs, Heifer International, said while speaking to global stakeholders at the event.  

Moreover, Ifedi emphasized the crucial necessity for immediate, collaborative actions aimed at strengthening Africa’s food systems to adequately support the projected population of 2.5 billion people by the year 2050.

“Africa possesses the youngest population globally, with nearly 40% of the continent’s population aged 15 or below, as of 2022. 

“In sub-Saharan Africa alone, an estimated 500 million people will be under 25 years old by 


“Within this massive numbers, we see a reservoir of energy, ingenuity, and determination being leveraged to solve societal problems across the continent,” she said.

Also, Heifer International actively promotes the expansion of innovative capital to support young innovators dedicated to developing groundbreaking solutions within the agriculture ecosystem.

Empowering Africa’s Youth Agripreneurs

Addressing an audience of youth innovators, policymakers, finance and technology experts, as well as other stakeholders during the organisation’s side event at the summit on September 4, Tewodros Ayele, the Country Director for Heifer International in Ethiopia said,

“Through various initiatives, we have provided innovative capital to young professionals developing and deploying tech innovations that are enhancing smart farming and food production across the continent.”

Ayele highlighted the AYuTe Africa Challenge as a noteworthy initiative, being one of the most ambitious agricultural competitions on the African continent. 

This competition serves as a platform for empowering and providing support to young professionals who are actively creating and implementing technological innovations that are reshaping the landscape of farming and food production throughout Africa.

“Since 2021, we have awarded up to US$1.5 million annually to our AYuTe Champions. 

“Our support doesn’t end there. We also deploy a team of expert advisers, accomplished business veterans to support AYuTe Africa Champions as they translate this funding into aggressive business expansion strategies. 

“We believe innovative capital includes everything that helps these young agripreneurs innovate beyond their talent.” Ayele said.