FANRPAN Board of Governors Announces the Departure of CEO, Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda

The FANRPAN Board of Governors announces the departure of the Chief Executive Officer and Head of Mission, Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda with effect from 30 June, 2017.Dr. Sibanda will be joining the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from 1 July 2017, as Vice President for Country Support, Policy and Delivery. It is gratifying to note that Dr. Sibanda will continue to drive agricultural transformation for a food and nutrition secure Africa, given that her new role at AGRA is aligned to the work we do at FANRPAN.

FANRPAN was created in response to a call in 1994 by the agriculture ministers in Eastern and Southern Africa for an autonomous network to provide independent evidence to inform policy harmonization at regional level. FANRPAN was designed to promote the dissemination of policy research results across Africa and to act as a platform for the engagement of civil society with policy decision makers. The establishment of FANRPAN as a sub-regional institution heralded an opportunity for the Eastern and Southern African regions to develop evidence-based food and nutrition security policies. Today, FANRPAN's mandate is Africa-wide with established multi-stakeholder network structures in seventeen countries, in eastern, southern and west Africa. The network's membership comprises of state and non-state actors in the food, agriculture and natural resources related government departments, researchers, farmer organizations, private sector, parliamentarians, and the media.

Dr. Sibanda played a critical role in the establishment of FANRPAN, serving as a member of the inaugural steering committee (1997-2001); as Board Chairperson (2002-4) and subsequently as CEO and Head of Mission (2005 to 2017). She championed the institutionalization of policies, and under her leadership, FANRPAN grew into a high-impact institution which is rated amongst the top 100 think tanks globally. According to staff at the FANRPAN Regional Secretariat in Pretoria, "Lindiwe's contribution is her selfless commitment to building a robust institution with world class management systems. Amongst her most important contributions to the Network are the policy tools she championed and institutionalized, such as the Household Assets Vulnerability Assessment (HAVA); the inclusion of smallholder farmers in the food security policy development processes using the Theatre for Policy Advocacy (TPA); and the benchmarking and capacity building of policy institutions using the Partner Institutional Viability Assessment (PIVA)."

Dr. Sibanda's legacy at FANRPAN will be her ability to bring to life the call made by Ministers of Agriculture for harmonized food and nutrition security policies and multi-stakeholder policy dialogue platforms. She successfully built bridges between state and non-state actors, demystified the process of agriculture policy development; and amplified the role of smallholder farmers, especially women and youth. In recognition of her contributions to African agriculture, especially her focus on the youth, innovation and entrepreneurship, Dr. Sibanda was awarded the YARA 2013 Prize.

A trained animal scientist, an authoritative leader in agriculture, climate change and nutrition, and a professional dialogue facilitator for multi-cultural groups; Dr Sibanda is a member and advisor to numerous regional and international bodies including the African Union Commission Leadership Council, the EAT-Lancet Commission and the United Nations Committee for Policy Development.

According to H.E. Sindiso Ngwenya, the FANRPAN Board Chairman Emeritus and COMESA Secretary-General, "Dr. Sibanda's most essential faculty is her ability to identify and document best practices in national policy processes and success stories, which resulted in the conferment of the FANRPAN Food Security Policy Leadership Award to Heads of State of Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Lesotho, and Madagascar. As part of her innovative policy advocacy approach she conducted face-to-face interviews with Heads of State, government Ministers, captains of industry and eminent leaders in farming and academia. Notable amongst her accomplishments is the development and implementation of a strategy of multi-stakeholder high-level food and nutrition security policy dialogues convened from local to national levels culminating in an annual regional policy dialogue platform.

Prior to FANRPAN, Dr. Sibanda founded and successfully led Linds Agricultural Services, an agricultural consulting firm that was commissioned to undertake co-functional studies for ministries of agriculture in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Uganda. This assignment assisted governments to identify their core business; and opened up space for the private sector to participate in policy development and implementation.

In Dr. Sibanda's words, "the FANRPAN Board, staff and country node coordinators have been the most committed and passionate people to work with. I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with a team that gives so generously of their own time and skills to help make a difference in Africa. The strong team at the FANRPAN Regional Secretariat achieves great results, and I believe this is the right time to take up a new challenge, one that in many ways flows seamlessly with the work of FANRPAN. I am delighted to be able to continue to work on agriculture policy issues in my new role with AGRA."

Whilst the Board is in the process of recruiting Dr. Sibanda's successor, Dr. Tobias Takavarasha has been appointed CEO ad interim, effective from 1 July 2017. Dr. Takavarasha has over thirty-five years experience in national and international public service in agriculture, food security and rural development, having served in leadership, advisory and management roles. He is the former United Nations Food and Agriculture (FAO) Representative for South Africa, Senior Policy Advisor for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Agriculture, Zimbabwe.

Statement released on behalf of the FANRPAN Board of Governors by:
H.E. Sindiso Ngwenya (Board Chairman Emeritus) and Secretary General of COMESA

Date: 
Wednesday, June 28, 2017