By Edmund Smith-Asante
A former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Tuesday launched a prestigious award for the most outstanding individual or institution whose contributions to African agriculture are promoting sustainable food security and economic opportunity for all Africans.
The Africa Food Prize, worth $100,000, is aimed at celebrating Africans who are changing the face of farming on the continent into a thriving business, with special focus on bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated across the continent.
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Yara have established a secretariat for the prize and will fund and support it.
The award will rely on nominations through the Africa Food Prize website: www.africafoodprize.org
Winners will be chosen by the Africa Food Prize Committee, which is made up of distinguished leaders in African agriculture, and will be announced annually during a prize-awarding ceremony at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), starting with the 2016 AGRF scheduled for September 5 to 9, 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Mr Obasanjo performed the launch during the opening of the 12th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform, an agricultural summit, on the theme: “Innovative financing and renewed partnership to accelerate implementation of CAADP”, in Accra.
Commenting on the award, Mr Obasanjo, who is the Chairman of the Food Prize Committee, said, “We want to celebrate individuals and institutions that are changing the reality of farming in Africa from a gruelling struggle to survive to a profitable family business that thrives.”
The Chairman and CEO of Econet Wireless International and Board Chair of AGRA, Mr Strive Masiyiwa, said: “The Africa Food Prize is another way we can drive a search for solutions to fundamental problems, like the chronic lack of financing, that prevent African farmers from achieving their potential.
“It can put a bright spotlight on bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated across the continent to eliminate hunger and poverty and provide a vital new source of employment and income.”
The President and CEO of Yara International, Mr Svein Tore Holsether, noted that “the winners this past decade have had one thing in common: A profound impact on African agriculture”.
“I believe the Africa Food Prize will continue to attract global attention to all the impressive African women and men with a ‘can-do attitude’ and drive - people who play such a vital role in transforming agriculture in Africa,” he said.
In 2004, a former UN Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, challenged the world to create an African Green Revolution, to which Yara responded with the Yara Prize in 2005.
Past winners of the Yara Prize include Dr Akinwumi Adesina, a former Nigerian Agriculture Minister, who now heads the African Development Bank (AfDB); Agnes Kalibata, a former Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources in Rwanda, who now serves as AGRA’s President, and Ousmane Badiane, Africa Director for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on April 14, 2016