By Jimoh Babatunde
Forrmer Nigeria President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has said that Africa needs simultaneous productivity push and policy pull to transform farming from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives.
Obasanjo, who is the chair, Africa Food Prize Committee, made the observation in Kigali, Rwanda, today , while congratulating the winners of this year’s , Dr. André Bationo and Dr. Catherine Nakalembe.
They were both announced as the 2020 winners of the Africa Food Prize (AFP) for their exceptional contribution towards the promotion of food security across the continent.
The Africa Food Prize exists to reward pioneering efforts to overcome obstacles across the agriculture value chain including limited access to high quality agricultural inputs, difficulties in accessing markets as well as the negative impact of climate change.
Obsanjo said “We need innovative Africans like Dr. Bationo and Dr. Nakalembe to demonstrate the potential of new knowledge and technology together with practical technologies that help improve the value proposition for farmers. These two are indeed exceptional Africans.”
Also speaking at the award presentation, President and CEO of Yara International, Shein Tore,said
“Both Dr. Catherine Nakalembe and Dr André Bationo represent exactly the kind of entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that African agriculture depends on to transform.”
Dr. André Bationo, a researcher from Burkina Faso, was reecognized for his efforts into the improvement of micro-dosing fertilizer technology.
Dr. Bationo has also scaled-up an inventory credit system which allows farmers to store grain and receive a credit when prices are low, thus selling their grain when prices are higher.
The micro-dosing technology and inventory credit systems are already benefitting millions of farmers in West Africa, having spread from the villages in Niger where Dr. Bationo first implemented these innovations to the wider regions.
Dr. Catherine Nakalembe, a Ugandan researcher, was honored for her dedication to improve the lives of smallholder farmers by using satellite technology to harness data to guide agricultural decision-making.
Her work in this area has helped prevent potentially disastrous impacts of crop failure. Her relentless efforts have also promoted the formulation of policies and programs that are directly impacting farmers against the impacts of food failure.
In her acceptance speech, Dr. Catherine Nakalembe said that she is keen on working with various stakeholders in promoting confidence among ministry leaders to enable them to proactively dedicate resources towards food security rather than retroactively addressing the negative impacts of major food events.
“I believe that together, we can harness the great potential of our farms to achieve sustainable food systems across the continent.”
On his part, Dr. Bationo said he is proud to be living in a time when the continent is leveraging various technology combining fertilizers and access to finance by the smallholder farmers to enhance agriculture productivity.”
“It is great to see farmers embracing opportunities offered by disruptive digital technologies to increase productivity and promote access to services and markets. I am honored to be part of this disruption.”
The 2017 winners were Kenyan professor Ruth Oniang’o and Malian Mme Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly who were jointly recognized for their exemplary efforts in driving Africa’s agriculture transformation.
The 2018 AFP award went to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for its leadership in generating agricultural research and technologies that have improved food security, nutrition, and incomes for millions of people across Africa.
While last year, 2019, Dr. Emma Naluyima, a smallholder farmer and private veterinarian from Uganda, and Baba Dioum, a policy champion and agricultural entrepreneur from Senegal were recognized for their remarkable achievements in demonstrating and promoting innovative and sustainable growth in Africa´s agriculture through improved resource use and market links.