First Africa Food Prize Awarded to Courageous and Visionary Leader

Tonight, the first ever Africa Food Prize will be awarded to Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), at a Gala dinner taking place at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Nairobi. Dr. Nwanze is being recognized for his visionary leadership and passionate advocacy on behalf of African smallholder farmers, work that has improved the lives of millions across the continent.

On Wednesday morning, Dr. Nwanze joined the Africa Food Prize committee members at a press conference in Nairobi. The following is a short selection of comments made:

“[Dr. Nwanza’s] work demonstrates very well what one committed and visionary individual can do to guide and empower others to reach precisely the objectives we have discussed in this Forum. He has been a passionate and persistent advocate for putting smallholder farmers at the center of the development agenda. He sees them not just as recipients of seeds or advice but as partners in learning how to do things better – how to make the leap from subsistence survival to a thriving business.”

H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, Chair of Africa Food Prize

“The committee had many deliberations, but in the end we all spoke with one voice. Dr. Nwanze was the best, not only because of what he achieved at IFAD, but also because of his journey beforehand. What he brought with him when he joined IFAD was as important as what he has achieved there, using his experience and vision to advance the work of the organization.”

Ms. Sheila Sisulu, former Special Envoy for Food and Nutrition Security of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa

“I have known Dr. Nwanze for decades. He is a fighter for agriculture, and a successful one at that. As a former scientist, he has proven that scientists can be successful transformation agents, and ones that bring credibility wherever they go.”

Dr. Joachim von Braun, Director of the Center for Development Research (ZEF), Bonn University

“When I first began to say that smallholder farms should be seen as businesses, my views were considered at best romantic, and at worst foolish. Today, the concept of smallholder farms as a business has become common place – this gives me great satisfaction. At the same time, we are still woefully failing to live up to our potential. Our investments should be focused on rural people….We have to get them the resources they need, including technology, knowledge, infrastructure, access to financial services, land rights, and social services. When they have these resources, they can lead their own development.”

Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, winner of the Africa Food Prize and President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

About the Africa Food Prize

The Africa Food Prize is the preeminent award recognizing an outstanding individual or institution that is leading the effort to change the reality of farming in Africa—from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives.

The US $100,000 prize celebrates Africans who are taking control of Africa’s agriculture agenda. It puts a spotlight on bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated across the continent to create a new era of food security and economic opportunity for all Africans.

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