Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA
Accra, Sept.4,GNA - Dr Emma Naluyima, a smallholder farmer and private veterinarian from Uganda and Mr Baba Dioum, an agricultural entrepreneur and policy champion from Senegal, have been announced joint winners of the 2019 Africa Food Prize and would share US$ 100,000 prize package.
The winners were selected out of more than 200 nominees in recognition of their efforts towards sustainable agricultural practices and promoting innovative and sustainable growth, improved resource use and creating market links towards ensuring food security in Africa.
Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who is the Chairperson of the Independent Committee that selected the winners, made the announcement at a news conference at the on-going African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Accra on Wednesday.
The announcement of the prize winners was a high point of the AGRF, which attracted 2,300 delegates in Africa and across the world to discuss policy interventions, programmes and investments towards ensuring sustainable agricultural development in Africa.
Former President Obasanjo said food security was a critical issue in Africa, saying; "And so who feeds you can take you as slave therefore we should make sure Africa is self-reliant in food production".
He congratulated the award winners for defying the status quo to make an impact in their respective countries and urged them to strive towards making the African green revolution agenda a reality.
Mr Strive Masiyiwa, outgoing Board Chairman of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa, also congratulated the award winners and called for innovative agricultural practices in Africa and believed the award would inspire young entrepreneurs and farmers to do more for agricultural development.
Dr Naluyima, one of the award recipient, said she quitted employment to become a farmer by transforming her one-acre plot into a showcase of profitable and environmentally friendly agriculture.
She said the secret for her success was innovative integration of crop and livestock production, based on recycling of farm resources to provide natural fertilizers and pesticides as well as biogas.
She generated $100,000 a year from her farm and hosted up to 10,000 visiting farmers to share knowledge through her advisory service.
Mr Dioum, another award recipient, said he excelled in the policy sphere and led the crusade for the introduction of key reforms in agricultural sector in his home country.
He said his whole life and career was revolved around markets and trade in agricultural commodities.
Mr Dioum also successfully promoted cross-border agricultural trade in West Africa and helped significantly to advance the trade dimension of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
Former President Obasanjo said: “What most strikes me about this year´s winners is how their academic and professional success went hand in hand with their success as farmers.
“They have embraced farming, using their talents and knowledge to demonstrate its enormous commercial possibilities.
"In other words, they practise what they preach, and this lends real credibility to their message about the value of technical and policy innovation in agriculture.”
Mr Svein Tore Holsether, President and Chief Executive Officer of Yara International ASA, sponsors of the Africa Food Prize, joined others in congratulating the 2019 recipients.
He said this year’s winners showed great examples of what was possible and needed in African agriculture transformation agenda.
He said knowledge and technology could transform farming and lead to improved livelihoods in Africa and underlined the need for young talents to see opportunities in the agricultural sector and dedicate themselves towards the cause of African green revolution.
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.
It honours outstanding contributions within every aspect of agriculture and food production that was clearly related to combating hunger and reducing poverty in Africa.
An Independent Committee chaired by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo selects the winners every year.
Other committee members are: Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin; Professor Sheryl Hendriks; Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg; Mr. Birama Sidibe; Amb. Sheila Sisulu; Dr. Vera Songwe; and Professor Joachim von Braun.
The Prize Committee considered the following criteria for the Prize: Contribution to reducing poverty and hunger and/or improving food and nutrition security in measurable terms, contribution to providing a vital source of income and/or employment in measurable terms and potential for transformative change through scalability, replication, and sustainability
The potential winner should have shown proven leadership and should have overcome significant challenges or risk in operations.