- Dr Akinwumi Adesina wins the 2017 World Food Prize.
- Dr Adesina said providing millions of farmers with seeds and fertilisers was vital to boost development. He added that 98 per cent of the world’s 800 million undernourished people live in Africa.
- “For me, the award is not just about recognition for me, it is also about putting the wind behind the sails of what still needs to be done in African agriculture,” he said.
The African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina has won the prestigious World Food Prize for his work to boost yields and farm incomes.
Dr Adesina said providing millions of farmers with seeds and fertilisers was vital to boost development. He added that 98 per cent of the world’s 800 million undernourished people live in Africa.
Since 1986, the World Food Prize aims to recognise efforts to increase the quality and quantity of available food.
Dr Adesina told BBC News that he was “very humbled” to win the award.
“For me, the award is not just about recognition for me, it is also about putting the wind behind the sails of what still needs to be done in African agriculture,” he said.
He added that the critical issue that needed to be addressed was that the level of productivity of the African agricultural sector was “so, so low”.
“One of the things that I have worked on was how to accelerate our efforts,” he observed.
“It is because the model that was used to distribute those farm inputs were old models based on government distribution systems, which are very, very inefficient.
“So I thought the best way to do that is to support rural entrepreneurs to have their own small shops to sell seeds and fertilisers to farmers.
“We started these agro-dealer networks and they spread over Africa. It brought farm inputs closer to farmers and it encouraged the private sector into the rural space.”
Partnering with Universities for a Sustainable Food System in Africa. A message from the AfDB President Akinwumi A. Adesina delivered during the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings 2017, April 20, 2017.
The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr Norman E Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize.
President of the World Food Prize Foundation, former US ambassador Kenneth Quinn, said the judging panel hoped awarding Dr Adesina this year’s prize would help provide “further impetus to his profound vision for enhancing nutrition, uplifting smallholder farmers, and inspiring the next generation of Africans as they confront the challenges of the 21st century”.
Considering what work still need to be done, Dr Adesina told BBC News: “I am really somebody who came out of poverty myself, and poverty is not pretty.
“I know that in order to create opportunities for the several tens of millions of young people in rural Africa today we have to make agriculture a business.
“For me it’s not a job. It’s my mission.”
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A delegation from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) visited Liberia 14-16 June 2017. Facilitated by the Counsel General of Liberia to Uganda, Dr. Thelma Awori, the purpose of the visit was to meet with leaders of key research and tertiary education institutions in Liberia and to dialogue with key government ministries on building high level skills to support agricultural led growth in Liberia. The high level delegation was received by Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia on 16 June 2017.
As part of the visit, the RUFORUM delegation visited the Booker Washington Institute (BWI), University of Liberia, Cuttington University and the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) of Liberia. The delegation met with management of the institutions visited, as well as Hon. George Kronnisanyon Werner, Minister of Education; Seklau E. Wiles, Acting Minister of Agriculture; Octavius T. Quarbo, Assistant Minister for Administration, Ministry of Agriculture; Att. Aogon F. Tingba, Deputy Minister for Administration, Ministry of Education; Amb. Marjon V. Kamara; Minister of Foreign Affairs; B. Elias Shoniyin, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs; Axel M. Addy, Minister, Ministry of Commerce and Industry; and Saah Charles N’Tow, Minister of Youth and Sports.
During the meeting with Her Excellency President Sirleaf, the Delegation, led by Prof. Adipala Ekwamu, Executive Secretary of RUFORUM congratulated Her Excellency on being the first African woman elected President of Liberia and Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS and for her role in establishing democratic processes and principles that have brought Liberia back to a well-recognized democracy on the continent. He also recognised the leadership role played by Her Excellency in managing successfully the Ebola crises.