Food Security and Agriculture in Africa Post COVID-19

Hosted by the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa

Online public event


Jane Ambuko

Jane Ambuko

Dr Abebe Haile-Gabriel

Dr Abebe Haile-Gabriel

Sara Mbago-Bhunu

Sara Mbago-Bhunu


Dr Stephanie Levy

Dr Stephanie Levy

This event builds on a conversation hosted last year which brought together high level speakers to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Africa. More than a year later, what challenges and opportunities exist for the African continent?

According to the Food and Agriculture organisation of the UN, there are currently 256 million hungry people in Africa today. Despite this, several African countries are making progress towards reducing malnutrition and addressing food security challenges to meet the 2030 SDG targets. Innovative projects are being put in place to address issues like climate change, interrupted food supply systems, and threats to production. With the agricultural sector many opportunities exist to help African economies. Africa has large amounts of untapped agricultural land that could be used to increase production. Some estimates range from 480 million hectares to 840 million hectares. But how can this be done in a sustainable way and what role do younger generations play in supporting the sector?

The impact of COVID-19 highlighted the need for African governments to utilise effective policy tools and develop infrastructure to deliver direct support to their citizens, whether it be around providing access to quality foods during imposed lockdowns or supporting farmers and small businesses during economic slow-downs. Communities found ways to support one another, but what can we learn about promoting food security in Africa more widely?

Meet our speakers and chair

Jane Ambuko is an Associate Professor and Head of Horticulture at the Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection, University of Nairobi, Kenya. Her training, research and outreach activities are focused on sustainable and appropriate solutions to reduce postharvest losses in horticultural value chains. Using the ‘lab to land’ approach to take research outputs to end users, Prof Ambuko works with smallholder farmers and other horticultural value chain practitioners in various capacity building and technology scale up initiatives. Prof. Ambuko is also credited with driving the All-Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition convening as a platform to create awareness and showcase sustainable solutions to postharvest food loss and waste in the African Context.

Abebe Haile-Gabriel has more than 35 years of extensive experience at national and international levels focused on agricultural and rural development in Africa. Since 2019 he has been the Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Africa and he was formerly the FAO’s Deputy Regional Representative for Africa and FAO Representative to Ghana. Prior to joining the FAO, Abebe had been serving at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, including as Director of the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture and Director of the Semi-arid Food Grains Research and Development.

Sara Mbago-Bhunu (@SaraMbago) is Director of East and Southern Africa Division at the International Fund for Agricultural Development.  Sara joined IFAD in late 2018 with over 21 years of professional experience in the agricultural and rural development sector across Central, East and Southern Africa. She has worked on agriculture policy and agriculture sector reviews, access to agriculture finance, value chain development and promotion of small and medium agri-enterprises. Sara joined IFAD from the World Bank where she worked as a Senior Agricultural Economist for the Central African Republic, DR Congo and Congo. 

Stephanie Levy is Guest Lecturer at the Department of International Development at at the London School of Economics and Political Science.  She is a development economist with over 15 years of experience in rural development and poverty reduction policies in Africa and South-East Asia. Stephanie has an extensive experience of modelling and policy analysis using simulation tools and quantitative analysis methods. As an academic researcher, she worked on agricultural development policies, including natural resources management, public investment in rural infrastructure and services, food price and poverty reduction.

More about this event

This event is part of the Africa Talks series by the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa (FLCA) and is in honour of UN World Food Safety Day

The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa (@AfricaAtLSE) promotes independent academic research and teaching; open and issue-oriented debate; and evidence-based policy making. The Centre connects social sciences disciplines and works in partnership with Africa to bring African voices to global debates.

This event forms part of LSE’s Shaping the Post-COVID World initiative, a series of debates about the direction the world could and should be taking after the crisis.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSECOVID19

Podcast & Video

A podcast of this event is available to download from Food Security and Agriculture in Africa Post COVID-19.

A video of this event is available to watch at Food Security and Agriculture in Africa Post COVID-19.

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