By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa
In an attempt to produce more outstanding individuals and institutions that are leading
the cause for food production and availability to all African citizens – the 2018 Africa Food Prize
continues to be a benchmark for food-related innovation on the continent.
With the acknowledgment that agriculture is Africa’s surest path to inclusive economic growth and development.
The Africa Food Prize exists to reward individuals and institutions that are pioneering efforts to create prosperity in Africa.
It is hoped that this will encourage others to follow their lead.
The Africa Food Prize began as the Yara Prize and was established in 2005 by Yara International ASA in Norway to honour achievements in African agriculture.
The Yara Prize recognized individuals from Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Malawi, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Mozambique for their success in making African farms more productive, profitable and resilient.
And this year’s search open for the winner of the 2018 Africa Food Prize.
The 2018 Africa Food Prize is a preeminent award that recognizes outstanding individuals or institutions that are leading the effort to change the reality of farming in Africa from a ‘struggle to survive to a business that thrives’.
With the prize of $100,000. This prize celebrates Africans who are taking control of Africa’s agriculture agenda.
According to organizers, “It puts a bright spotlight on bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated across the continent to create a new era of food security and economic opportunity for all Africans.’
The 2017 Prize was jointly awarded to Prof. Ruth Oniang’o, a professor and advocate of nutrition from Kenya, and Mme Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly, an entrepreneur and agro-industrialist from Mali, for their exemplary efforts in driving Africa’s agriculture transformation.
Prof. Oniang’o was recognized as the leading voice of nutrition in Africa and for her relentless advocacy for the availability and affordability of diverse and nutritious crops for millions across the continent.
While Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly, on the other hand, was feted for her mission to produce and supply improved and high-yielding seed that has led to improved incomes and nutrition for millions in Mali and other West African countries
The two trailblazers succeeded the 2016 winner, Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze, the former president of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Nwanze received the prize in its first year for his visionary leadership and passionate advocacy to place African smallholder farmers at the centre of the global agricultural agenda.
The award was also for his demonstrated success in advancing programmes, policies and resources that have improved the lives of millions across the continent.
Now in its third year. The prize has continually grown in stature and popularity.
In 2017, a total of 643 outstanding individuals, projects and institutions were put forward for consideration for the prize.
This represented a 100% growth in the number of nominees from the previous year when the prize was inaugurated.
Nominations came from over 20 African. As well as from countries outside the continent.
Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Mali and Botswana led with the highest number of nominees per country.
The 2018 winner will be chosen by the Africa Food Prize Committee. This is an independent body of preeminent leaders that is chaired by the former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
The other committee members are Dr Vera Songwe, Dr Eleni Z. Gabre-Madhin, Prof. Joachim von Braun and Amb. Sheila Sisulu.
Past winners include Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the former Nigerian Agriculture Minister who now heads the African Development Bank (AfDB); Dr Agnes Kalibata, the former Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources in Rwanda who now serves as AGRA’s President; and Dr Ousmane Badiane, Africa Director for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
Dr. Ousmane Badiane, director for Africa, IFPRI, and Eric Kaduru, founder and CEO, KadAfrica are the recipients of the Yara Prize 2015.
Moving the Yara Prize to Africa in 2016 and rechristening it the Africa Food Prize gave the award a distinctive African home, African identity and African ownership
The deadline for nominations is Tuesday, 15 May 2018. The winner will be unveiled at a high-profile gala dinner at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2018 this September in Kigali, Rwanda.
“The past two cycles of the prize show that the continent has strong agricultural leaders in all sectors. We are very grateful to the public for helping us to identify and recognise the best among us by nominating outstanding individuals, institutions and projects. My committee and I look forward to receiving many more nominations this year,” remarked Obasanjo.