By Abdi Ali
Published October 29, 2017
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) who says he grew up in poverty and his mission in life is “to lift up millions of people out of poverty, especially farmers in rural areas,” has received the 2017 World Food Prize.
Rather than spend the US$250000 cash prize on himself, Dr Adesina pledged to devote the entire amount in setting up a fund in support of young African farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs.
“Even though I don’t have the cash in my hand, I hereby commit my US$250000 as a cash prize for the World Food Prize award to set up a fund fully dedicated to providing financing for the youth of Africa in agriculture to feed Africa,” Adesina said on October 19, 2017 as he received the prize in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. “We will arise and feed Africa. The day is coming very soon when all its children will be well-fed, when millions of small-holder farmers will [afford] to send their [children] to school. Then you will hear a new song across Africa: ‘Thank God our lives are better at last.’”
“We must give hope and turn agriculture into a business,” Adesina, who was accompanied by Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria in whose administration he served, and John Mahama, former President of Ghana, said.“My life’s mission is to lift up millions of people out of poverty, especially farmers in rural areas.”
The World Food Prize, founded by Nobel Laureate, Norman Borlaug, is the foremost international honour recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
The World Food Prize board had announced Adesina as the Laureate in June 2017 for his work in improving the availability of seed, fertiliser and financing for Nigerian farmers and for laying the foundation for the youth to engage in agriculture as a profitable business.
As Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria, Adesina introduced the E-Wallet system, which brought transparency to fertiliser distribution system – a process previously hampered by corruption for 40 years. His policies expanded Nigeria’s food production by 21 million metric tons, and the country attracted US$5.6 billion in private-sector investment, earning him tremendous respect as the ‘farmers’ Minister’.
Under his leadership, the AfDB is accelerating agricultural development through its Feed Africa Strategy with planned investment of US$24 billion over the next 10 years.
The goals of AfDB’s Feed Africa strategy are to help eliminate extreme poverty in Africa by 2025; end hunger and malnutrition in Africa by 2025; make Africa a net food exporter; and move Africa to the top of export-orientated global value chains where it has comparative advantage.