Niyi Aderibigbe

AfDB President Adesina commits $250,000 World Food Prize money to supporting young African farmers

Former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, made his country and Africa proud when he was announced the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate. But he’s doing more than making Africa proud, he is committing his $250,000 prize money to a fund in support of young African farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs.

“And so, even though I don’t have the cash in my hand, I hereby commit my $250,000 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 at an event in Iowa where the Governor of the State of Iowa, Kim Reynolds officially announced him as the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate.

“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 be able to send their kids to school,” Adesina said.

“Then you will hear a new song across Africa: ‘Thank God our lives are better at last.’”

Adesina has over the years devoted to the cause of fighting global hunger, recording breakthrough achievements which have impacted millions of farmers and those living in rural poverty in Nigeria and throughout Africa. It was his achievements when he was minister of agriculture in Nigeria that sold him to the rest of Africa and made the decision to make him AfDB president easy. He had since becoming president ensured a renewed commitment by the Bank, to developing Africa.

Among several other growth initiatives, the AfDB has developed the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) initiative – a knowledge and innovation-based response to the recognized need of scaling up proven technologies across Africa.

It will support AfDB’s Feed Africa Strategy for the continent to eliminate the current massive importation of food and transform its economies by targeting agriculture as a major source of economic diversification and wealth, as well as a powerful engine for job creation.

The initiative will implement 655 carefully considered actions that should result in almost 513 million tons of additional food production and lift nearly 250 million Africans out of poverty by 2025. TAAT will execute bold plans to contribute to a rapid agricultural transformation across Africa through raising agricultural productivity along eight Priority Intervention Areas (PIAs).

The commodities value chains to benefit from this initiative are rice, cassava, pearl millet, sorghum, groundnut, cowpea, livestock, maize, soya bean, yam, cocoa, coffee, cashew, oil palm, horticulture, beans, wheat and fish.

Adesina explained that TAAT would help break down decades of national boundary-focused seed release systems. Seed companies will have regional business investments, not just national ones, he said. “That will be revolutionary and will open up regional seed industries and markets.”

He added that TAAT will be implemented through a collectively agreed central delivery platform, coordinated by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, with national, regional and international agricultural research centres.

The initiative brings together global players in agriculture, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, World Food Programme, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Rockefeller Foundation and national and regional agricultural research systems.

“TAAT is a transformative and landmark partnership effort. The African Development Bank, World Bank, AGRA, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation intend to mobilize US $1 billion to help scale up technologies across Africa,” Adesina said.