Dr André Bationo and Dr Catherine Nakalembe have been announced as the 2020 winners of the Africa Food Prize (AFP) for their exceptional contribution towards the promotion of food security across the continent.
Dr André Bationo, a researcher from Burkina Faso, has been recognized 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, has been honoured for her dedication to improving 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.
Congratulating the winners, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, Chair, Africa Food Prize Committee and former President, Federal Republic of Nigeria emphasized that the efforts of the duo reinforce the call for a simultaneous productivity push and policy pull to transform farming from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives.
“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,” he said.
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.
“Both Dr Catherine Nakalembe and Dr André Bationo represent exactly the kind of entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that African agriculture depends on to transform. Their achievements are remarkable,” says Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of Yara International.
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 honoured to be part of this disruption.”
With the task of annually selecting winners from a list of exemplary nominees, the Africa Food Prize Committee is an independent body of preeminent leaders that is chaired by the former Nigerian President, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo. The other committee members are Birama Sidibe, Dr Eleni Z. Gabre-Madhin, Prof. Joachim von Braun, Amb. Sheila Sisulu, Prof. Sheryl Hendriks, Dr Vera Songwe, and Dr Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg.
Last year, the Africa Food Prize got a ‘little sister’, known as the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize. The winners will be announced during the Africa Food Prize Ceremony at 5 pm CAT today.
In 2016, the AFP was awarded to Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze, a Nigerian and the former President of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Dr Nwanze was recognized for his outstanding leadership in putting Africa´s smallholder farmers at the centre of the global agricultural agenda.
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.