President of African Development Bank receives World Food Prize

by Eric Schroeder
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Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina president
Akinwumi Adesina was recognized for his leading role over the past two decades in significantly expanding food production in Nigeria.
Photo courtesy of The World Food Prize.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, Ph.D., president of the African Development Bank, has been named the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate. Adesina was announced as the award winner at a June 26 ceremony at the U.S. State Department.

Adesina was recognized by the World Food Prize Foundation for his leading role over the past two decades in significantly expanding food production in Nigeria, introducing initiatives to exponentially increase the availability of credit for smallholder farmers across the African continent, and galvanizing the political will to transform African agriculture.

“The selection of President Akinwumi Adesina as the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate reflects both his breakthrough achievements as Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria and his critical role in the development of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA),” said Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. “It also gives 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.”

Adesina’s policies as Minister of Agriculture helped expand Nigeria’s food production by 21 million tonnes and helped attract $5.6 billion in private sector investments in agriculture, earning him the reputation as the “farmer’s Minister,” the World Food Prize Foundation said.

In 2006, as associate director for food security at the Rockefeller Foundation, Adesina played a critical leadership role in organizing the Africa Fertilizer Summit, which took place in Abuja, Nigeria. World Food Prize Foundation founder and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Norman Borlaug hailed this event as absolutely essential in igniting the campaign to spread a new Green Revolution across Africa, which led to the creation of AGRA.

While at AGRA, Adesina developed partnerships with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corp. and the Kilimo Trust to provide loans to tens of thousands of smallholder farmers and the agribusinesses that support them in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Mozambique.

As Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture from 2011 to 2015, Adesina transformed his country’s agriculture sector through bold reforms, including creating programs to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production, and to help cassava become a major cash crop.

The World Food Prize Foundation also noted that Adesina was instrumental in ending more than 40 years of corruption in the fertilizer and seed sectors in Nigeria by launching the E-Wallet system, directly providing farmers with vouchers redeemable for inputs using mobile phones. The resulting increased farm yields have led to the improvement of food security for 40 million people in rural farm households.

“As someone who grew out of poverty, I know that poverty is not pretty,” Adesina said. “My life mission is to lift up millions of people out of poverty, especially farmers in rural areas of Africa. We must give hope and turn agriculture into a business all across Africa to create wealth for African economies. The World Food Prize gives me an even greater global platform to make that future happen much faster for Africa.”

Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, created the World Food Prize in 1987. It is the foremost international award recognizing individuals who have contributed landmark achievements in increasing the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. 

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