IFAD President Dr Kanayo Nwanze wins inaugural Africa Food Prize

The head of the United Nations agency charged with eradicating rural poverty has been awarded the inaugural Africa Food Prize – and dedicated it to “the millions of African women who silently toil to feed their families.”

“No nation has been able to transform itself without giving women the same rights and opportunities as men. Our hope for future generations rests with African women who bear and raise our young people who will shape the African continent in the years to come,” the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze, added in an IFAD news release on his win.

According to its website, the Africa Food Prize was launched in April this year, in Ghana, and the $100,000 accolade recognizes outstanding individuals and institutions that are leading the effort to change the reality of farming in Africa, from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives. It aims to put 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. The award succeeds the Yara Prize, which was first established by Yara International ASA in 2005.

A news release on the website noted that the Africa Food Prize Committee – chaired by Olusegun Obasanjo, a former President of Nigeria – selected Dr Nwanze for his outstanding leadership and passionate advocacy in putting Africa’s smallholder farmers at the centre of the global agricultural agenda.

“Dr Nwanze is a model for how a great leader can make a difference in the lives of people on the ground,” said Mr. Obasanjo in the news release. “Whether that leader is the head of a global institution, a head of state or a head of small organization, Dr  Nwanze’s accomplishments on behalf of African farmers are a reminder of what’s possible when you combine passion, good ideas, commitment, focus, hard work and dedication.”

Alongside his “tireless advocacy,” the news release noted that Dr Nwanze is credited with re-orienting IFAD’s work to focus more on making small-scale farming a viable business, as well as expanding IFAD’s presence in developing countries to increase the organization’s effectiveness.

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