June 28, 2017

28/06/2017: Akinwumi Adesina awarded "Nobel Prize for food and agriculture"

Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina
Image courtesy of Perdue University
 Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, president of the African Development Bank Group and Purdue University alumni, has been named as the 2017 World Food Prize laureate for his work to reform the agricultural sector in Africa. 

 The award, which is worth US$250,000, has over its 31 years in existence become affectionately known as the "Nobel Prize for food and agriculture". It is the highest international honour recognising the achievements of those who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity and availability of food in the world. Akinwumi will be the 46th recipient and the sixth African to receive the award. 

 The prize was founded in 1986 by Norman E.Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, the World Food Prize has honoured 45 individuals who have made vital contributions throughout the world. It annually hosts the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium and a variety of youth education programmes to help further the discussion on cutting-edge global food security issues and to inspire the next generations to end global hunger. 

 Adesina, who was awarded an honorary doctorate from Purdue in 2015, earned his master's (1985) and doctoral (1988) degrees in agricultural economics from Perdue, he joins his universities faculty members Gebisa Ejeta, 2009 and Philip Nelson, 2007 as World Food Prize laureates. After graduating he returned to Africa where he launched his career. He has received global awards and recognition for his leadership and work in agriculture. In 2010 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed him as one of the leaders to spearhead the Millennium Development Goals, along with Bill Gates, the Spanish prime minister and the president of Rwanda. Forbes magazine also named him "African Person of the Year in 2013". 

 Ejeta, distinguished professor and director of the Centre for Global Food Security, expounded, "I have known Dr Adesina since he was a graduate student and I was a young assistant professor at Perdue. I have followed his growth and accomplishments over his entire professional career - a career in which he has created innovative financial instruments and policy changes that have transformed African agriculture. He is a brilliant man with extensive knowledge, experience and a gift for oratory that combined have enabled him to be a most powerful and constructive voice in African agricultural development."

Image courtesy of the BBC
 Adesina was appointed Nigeria's minister of agriculture in 2011, and during his four-year term, he ended 40 years of corruption in the fertiliser sector by developing and implementing an electronic wallet system that directly provides farmers with subsidies at scale using their mobile phones. Within the first four years after its launch the system changed the lives of 14.5 million farmers. Under his leadership it is reported that Nigeria's food production has expanded by 21 million metric tonnes. 

 Mitch Daniels, President, Perdue, commented, "Purdue's researchers and alumni have helped feed the planet by making significant contributions in science based agriculture and food science, and there is no calling that is both more noble and necessary."

 He continues, "Akinwumi Avodeji Adesina continues that tradition, and we join in congratulating him and celebrating this recognition of his achievements." 

 Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize, made the announcement of Monday June 26, 2017, he described Adesina as "someone who grew out of poverty, but whose life mission is to lift up millions of people out of poverty".

 Sonny Perdue, US Secretary of Agriculture, delivered the keynote remarks at the ceremony held in Washington DC. 

 Jay Akridge, Perdue's Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture, remarked, "From our time together as graduate students at Perdue, it has been a privilege to watch Akin's career advance and to applaud the difference he has made in the world through his combination of intellect, vision, passion and drive. This singular recognition is most deserved, and for all of us in Perdue Agriculture it is truly exciting to anticipate what comes next as this very proud Boilermaker continues to invest his extraordinary leadership capabilities to end hunger and poverty in Africa."

Image courtesy of the BBC
 Commenting on his achievement, Adesina explained, "Africa must feed itself, rapidly unlock its agricultural potential and help feed the world. And we must end malnutrition in Africa. That's the life challenge and exciting task ahead of me now in my current position as president of the African Development Bank, to feed Africa. I know we can do it. The World Food Prize gives me an even greater global platform to make that future happen much faster for Africa." 

 The ceremony will be held on October 19, 2017 in the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines. 

Read more here and here. 

The Global Miller
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which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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