How our fellowship works

The two-year fellowships create structured opportunities for twenty early-career researchers at our academic partner institutions to work with senior academic and practitioner mentors from Africa and leading researchers from the University of Leeds in the UK. This enables early-career researchers to conduct impact-focused interdisciplinary research related to African food systems, build lasting research networks across Africa and the UK, and develop their skills to translate and communicate their research effectively to diverse audiences.

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Stakeholders include, but are not limited to:


Regardless of scale of production from garden farms to large-scale farming operations.


Any entity involved in the processing of food in any form for value addition.

Storage and Distribution

Role players and actors involved in any aspect of storing or transporting food.


Any stakeholder who sells food - including local markets, informal traders and large retail stores.


Essentially all of us, but specifically the way we access and make choices about food.

Financial institutions

Who provide financing for any activity within the food system.

Private sector: small-, medium- and large-scale businesses

Engaged in any aspect of production, distribution, marketing, sale or disposal of food.

Public sector

Local, provincial, national government departments with jurisdiction related to any aspect of the food system, including agricultural, rural, environmental management, business development.

Each fellow is carefully matched with two mentors – one from the University of Leeds and one from an African institution – to form research triads. Each research triad is carefully put together to ensure it forms an interdisciplinary research team to work together on a research project related to the African food system.

Through the extensive networks of our partner, FANRPAN, triads are linked to in-country stakeholders in the food system who can support the design and implementation of their research. FANRPAN has multi-sectoral nodes in each of our partner countries.

Each triad is linked to researchers at the University of Pretoria, who have similar research interests to help build their networks within their field. Fellows remain in their home institutions for the duration of the fellowship but spend time with their mentors and food systems stakeholders at a series of innovative fellowship events. The fellowship covers the costs of participation in fellowship events for all fellows and mentors. Fellows also receive funding through the fellowship to implement their research projects.

Fellowship events

There are five fellowship events planned during the two-year fellowship. Fellows, mentors and food systems stakeholders will participate in these events.

fellowship events

The fellowship started in July 2021 with the triads participating in an online Orientation Workshop Series spanning several weeks to prepare them for the fellowship programme.

Food system stakeholders from the focus countries were invited to participate in discussions with the triads during the Orientation Workshop, which helped inform the research direction of fellows' projects. After orientation, fellows spent time at their home institutions, working remotely with their mentors to develop their research proposals.

There were two Summer Schools for skills and capacity building. The first Summer School took place at the University of Pretoria, and ran for four weeks from January 2022 to February 2022. Fellows were in residence at the University's Future Africa Campus during this time, while each mentor spent at least one week in residence. Fellows received training on, amongst other things, proposal writing, data management, monitoring and evaluation, and research ethics for interdisciplinary projects. Once their proposals were completed, and they obtained ethical clearance, fellows began implementing their research.

Six months after the first Summer School, fellows spent four weeks in June 2022 and July 2022 at the University of Leeds Summer School in the UK, where they participated in training on aspects such as interdisciplinary research, policy advocacy, and academic leadership. Mentors participated in the Summer School for up to two weeks, which allowed them time with their fellows and time to explore collaboration opportunities with the broader university academic community.

In 2023, fellows will participate in a Communication for Impact Workshop focusing on research leadership and science-to-impact communication and a five-day Write-Shop, to be held mid-2023. The workshop will consolidate the skills developed throughout the fellowship that equips fellows to become future research leaders. With the support of academic writing and science communication professionals, the Write-Shop will give fellows the opportunity to translate their research into publishable products.

During the last quarter of the year, fellows will participate in a Policy Impact Training that will equip fellows with the skills to communicate their research with policy stakeholders through to use of policy briefs and other mechanisms. In October 2023, fellows will be expected to share their work with a wide stakeholder audience at the Stakeholder Engagement Dialogue. This will be a high-level event including participants from across sectors in the six focus countries and will conclude the fellowship.