Ishmael Sunga

Chief Executive Officer of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU)


Ishmael Sunga is the Chief Executive Officer of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU).

Mr. Ishmael Sunga holds a BSc (Economics) from the University of Zimbabwe and an MSc (Strategic Management) from the University of Derby in the UK.  Other postgraduate training includes a Certificate in Rural Research and Rural Policy from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex (UK), as well as a Certificate in Strategic Management from the University of Derby University (UK). 

Ishmael has more than 30 years’ experience, mainly in the development sector. Prior to his current position as head of a regional farmers’ organization for southern Africa, he previously worked in various capacities for research and academic institutions, and for international development agencies.  His experience covers southern Africa and other parts of Africa, the UK and Asia (India, Bangladesh and Sri-Lanka), and spans several areas, including agricultural development; rural transport; micro-hydro power; irrigation schemes; farm machinery; agro-processing; small scale mining; light engineering, cooperatives, farmers’ and other membership-based organisations.

Since he was appointed to his current position as the CEO of SACAU in 2005, he has successfully positioned the organization as the main platform and voice for organized farmers in southern Africa, and as a thought leader in agricultural development. Among others, he is spearheading the organization’s work in digital solutions for agriculture; climate change management; the development of a new generation of farmers and of farmers’ organizations; governance of value chains; public-private partnerships; agricultural financing and insurance and good corporate governance. 

His wide-ranging practical experience and thought leadership have seen him serving in various capacities on global and other important initiatives, including the following: 1. World Economic Forum’s (WEF): a) ambassador of the New Vision for Agriculture (NVA) initiative, b) member of the Stewardship Board for the System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Food, c) member of the New Alliance Leadership Council, d) member of the working group on the Digital Identity initiative, e) member of the working group on Bio innovation in food and agriculture; 2. Steering committee member for NEPAD’s Grow Africa and the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF); 3. Member of the Montpellier Malabo Panel of Experts; 4. Ambassador for the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU); 5. Advisory committee member of AgriCord; 6. Advisory committee member of The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA)/Global Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN); 7. CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Panel of Experts for Transforming Global Food Systems under Climate Change; 8. Advisory Council member of  The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA)/Dalberg on Digitalization for Agriculture in Africa (CTA D4Ag).

Finally, Ishmael has published a number of articles, including one on “Organizing for the Future: Overcoming Fragmentation with Digital Technology” which was published in the Foreign Affairs anthology titled “Overcoming isolation, speeding up change and taking success to scale”.  

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