By Jimoh Babatunde
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank , in the early hours of yesterday in Des Moines, the capital city of Iowa, United States of America, became the sixth African to be awarded the World Food Prize in a ceremony witnessed by two former African Presidents.
Elated Adesina said he will used the award prize money of $250,000 to set up a foundation for African youth development in Agriculture.
While thanking God for seeing for taking this far in his chosen profession, he said “ it is simply amazing that the son of ATQ poor farmer can be at the world stage receiving this award. I will dedicate my life to feeding the world.”
Thanking former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was present with former Ghanaian President, John Mahama, for nominating him to serve as a minister in Johnathan’s government, Adesina said “For me, the World Food Prize is a great honour and recognition for all of the work that I have done for decades of my life.
“ But it also puts wind behind our sail as we now take off to feed Africa, because it is a job that has to be complete,” he stressed.
“Not only must Africa feed itself, it must feed itself with pride. Africa must also unlock the potentials of agriculture, turning agriculture from something that you use for managing poverty, to something that you use for creating wealth.”
The World Food Prize is a great motivation which puts the wind behind the sails of what the African Development Bank is doing with its development priorities − the High 5s – especially Feed Africa, the President of the Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, has said.
He noted how the High 5s were all linked, and pledged the commitment of the Bank to continue its development work in Africa.
Adesina also stressed the need to put technology and information in the hands of farmers describing the mobile phone as the most important tool in the hands of a farmer.
“With it, they will find out information about the market, about weather, and about to access finance,” Adesina said. “They will be able to get information about nutrition for mothers, for instance. That is very important. That was why when I was Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, we launched this electronic wallet system that allows farmers to access fertilizers, and we reached well over 15 million farmers.”
Awareness and empowerment, he said, could only come through providing information, democratizing the access to information to farmers.
“I have never seen a farmer that wants to be poor,” he said.
President Muhammad Buhari,, who was represented at the ceremony by minister of state for Agriculture , Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, iin a video message earlier , said the choice of Adesina as 2017 World Food Prize Laureate is a clear recombination and appreciation of his standing contributions to food security and for driving change in African agriculture for over 25 years.
“By dint of hard work, persistence, diligent efforts and God’s sufficient grace, you have risen above many limitations to emerge as a notable figure and a true champion. Your life story mirrors the resilience of the Africa spirit and doggedness for which Nigerians are well known
In June, the World Food Prize announced African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina as the 2017 Laureate for his work in improving the availability of seed, fertilizer and financing for African farmers, and for laying the foundation for the youth in Africa to engage in agriculture as a profitable business.
Known as the ‘Nobel Prize for Agriculture’, the World Food Prize was founded by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Norman Borlaug and is considered 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 Prize is presented each October on or around UN World Food Day (October 16) in a ceremony in the Iowa State capital of Des Moines.
Under President Adesina’s 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 prize also recognizes Adesina’s work over the past two decades with the Rockefeller Foundation, at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture of Agriculture and Rural Development.