President, African Development Bank (AfDB) Mr Akinwunmi Adesina, has awarded $1.1 million to 10 young African agric entrepreneurs to boost food production in Africa. The beneficiaries are Lourena Maxwell (Mozambique), John Agboola (Nigeria), Adonai Anna (Benin) and Olufemi Adesina (Nigeria). Others are Ifeoluwa Olatayo (Nigeria), Victor Mugo (Kenya), Emmanuel Maduka (Nigeria), Marianne Enow-Tabi (Cameroon), Solomon Nimako (Ghana), and Nicholas Alifa (Nigeria).
Adesina in a statement by the bank stressed the need to end hunger and malnutrition, pointing out that it would help achieve lasting peace in the world. He spoke during the launch of fellowship for young African agribusiness innovators by World Food Prize and World Hunger Fighters Foundation. The event took place in Des Moines, U.S.A. The AfDB President said “together, let’s end hunger in Africa. Together, let’s end hunger in our world. “When I won the World Food Prize in 2017 and the Sunhak Peace Prize in 2019, I pledged the prize monies and a few matching donations totalling 1.1 million dollars to the creation of the World Hunger Fighters Foundation.
“This young crop of hunger fighters and agric entrepreneurs will pick up the baton and in turn, do great things across the world”. He said that 10 outstanding African youths out of 1,300 applications were selected for the 2019 Borlaug-Adesina Fellowship. Responding, 30-year-old Olatayo said that she aspired to impact more than 200,000 smallholder farmers across Africa in three years.
“My rooftop farms are based in Ibadan, Oyo State in Nigeria. We use a vertical model to plant lettuce and cucumber. Since we were close to consumers, we were able to sell to them with fast and easy access to nutritious foods while lessening the impact of transportation on the whole agricultural value chain,” Olatayo said.
The World Food Prize Foundation and the newly launched World Hunger Fighters Foundation are partnering to provide year-long fellowships for young African food innovators and entrepreneurs.
The World Hunger Fighters Foundation will award annual Borlaug-Adesina Fellowships to young Africans to develop new technologies, champion public policy, and develop viable businesses in the field of agriculture. The young leaders are expected to gain experience in international agriculture research centres, including food and agribusiness companies. It will be recalled that the late Nobel peace prize laureate, Dr Norman Borlaug, whose work helped feed one billion people, used his award to set up the World Food Prize Foundation.
It annually awards the prestigious World Food Prize, known as the Nobel prize for food and agriculture. Meanwhile Felix Tshisekedi, President, Democratic Republic of Congo and a guest speaker at the launch of the foundation in Des Moines, Iowa, said that agriculture can be used to restore peace in conflict areas. “Agriculture can be the source of peace in Africa. It can create jobs and act as a stabilising factor in countries witnessing conflict. Agriculture is helping to disarm former combatants in my country, for instance,” he added. On his part, former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, described the hunger fighters’ initiative as critical to food security in Africa.
“The problem of youth unemployment, criminality, and many other related problems will be solved substantially if we take agribusiness, food security, and social security altogether,’’ Obasanjo said.