Agribusinesses in the spotlight with the 2017 World Food Prize


The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, was honored last Friday with the 2017 World Food Prize, a kind of equivalent of a Nobel Prize for agriculture. The president of the Foundation does not hesitate to call him the "Africa’s Norman Borlaug", due to the name of the founder of the Foundation who is generally credited with the paternity of the "Green Revolution".

The award of Dr. Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina is quite natural in view of his historic commitment to agricultural development and the fight against malnutrition. Born into a farmers family, he worked for the Rockefeller Foundation and was also named Vice President of Operations for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He was then Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria from 2011 to 2015 before becoming President of the African Development Bank (AfDB). Ambassador Kenneth Quinn has thus hailed his decisive action in “ expanding food production in Nigeria ; introducing initiatives to exponentially increase the availability of credit for smallholder farmers across the African continent ” and his active leadership at the political level to transform agriculture in Africa.

The president of the African Development Bank has also pledged to spend its $ 250,000 World Food Prize money to finance young farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs to feed Africa and the world. These famous "agripreneurs" are indeed the keystone of African agriculture and sustainable growth. As President Owona recently highlights in a column, "African smallholder farmers are suffering from seeing their profession as archaic and under-productive." Yet, "these agro-entrepreneurs know all the constraints and challenges of business leaders." We can only hope that this new fund that will be set up for farmers is the beginning of a change in perception of their role in African growth and that this initiative will bring many more.