Dr Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, has been awarded the World Food Prize 2017 for his pioneering role in empowering African agriculture and making it a key player of securing food for the world
The World Food Prize board chose Adesina this year for the US$250,000 prize, highlighting his role in improving the availability of seed, fertiliser and financing for African farmers, and for laying the foundations for the youth in Africa to engage in agriculture as a profitable business.
In choosing Adesina for this year’s award, the organisation recognises his endeavours at the Bank Group to implement the ambitious High 5 priorities (Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa), and the positive impact this would have in Africa and the world.
The organisation pointed out that Adesina’s forte is his strong ability to build partnerships that enabled commercial banks and development organisations to provide loans to tens of thousands of farmers and agribusinesses in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Mozambique. As Nigeria’s minister of agriculture from 2011 to 2015, he made his mark by creating programmes to make the country self-sufficient in rice production and helped turn cassava into a major cash crop and a strategic raw material for Bakeries. Above all, Adesina’s success in enabling Nigeria’s farmers increase farm yields through an electronic wallet system that helped them obtain fertilisers, led to dramatic improvement in agricultural production and enhanced food security for 40 million people in the country’s rural farm households.
The official announcement of the Prize was made during a ceremony Monday at the US Department of Agriculture in Washington DC. “Adesina will receive the $250,000 award administered by the Des Moines-based World Food Prize Foundation in a ceremony at the state Capitol in October,” US Department of Agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue said.
Speaking at the event, Adesina said that he was inspired by a commitment to transform African agriculture into a means for lifting millions out of poverty and is proud his work has been recognised. “It is vitally important to show young people in rural regions of Africa that farming can be profitable and can improve their lives.”