Many a time, when in search of people and establishments to have a good time in Africa, we are inclined to overlook the scientific neighborhood. Even once we do applaud scientists, it’s not uncommon that our consideration will probably be drawn extra to these far past the continent.
This pattern has particularly been obvious now, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. All notable focus has been directed to analysis actions in Europe, Asia and the USA. But we have now hundreds, if not thousands and thousands, of scientists doing equally impactful work within the continent, together with main meals techniques transformation that encompasses developments in agriculture, well being and diet amongst different sectors.
Fortunately, this narrative is progressively altering with prestigious awards targeted on the African scientific neighborhood, such because the Africa Meals Prize. Since 2006, the award has been shining a highlight on heroic African people and establishments making an actual distinction within the continent’s agriculture, meals and diet safety panorama.
By the $100,000 award, 13 main scientists and one analysis organisation have over the past 15 years been recognised amongst 24 winners for his or her contribution to the eradication of starvation and poverty from the continent.
Extra lately, distant sensing scientist, Dr. Catherine Nakalembe, and micro-dosing specialist, Dr. André Bationo, have been 2020 Africa Meals Prize joint winners. As in earlier years, the 2 have been chosen from a aggressive listing of greater than 500 innovators throughout the meals system worth chains.
Exemplifying significance of scientific work in Africa, the 37-year-old Dr. Nakalembe helps nations construct techniques to observe crops utilizing satellite tv for pc information thus supporting African farmers to make evidence-based selections for higher agricultural output and resilience. Co-winner, Dr. Bationo, on his half, is contributing to the understanding of soil fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa and has made transformative discoveries in micro-dosing fertilizer expertise.
These are simply two of the numerous transformational innovators feted by the African Meals Prize, whose choice committee I’ve chaired for the previous 5 years, throughout which era we reviewed a number of hundreds of nominations. As I put together to step down from this function, I can attest to the richness and depth of Africa’s expertise and innovation, and it has been gratifying to have a ring-side seat in celebrating it.
Through the AGRF Summit 2021 in Nairobi, from September 6-10, extra laureates and a brand new chair will probably be unveiled, along with offering a terrific platform for leaders and different agriculture and meals system stakeholders to interact on the way forward for Africa’s meals and diet safety via high-profile conversations and in depth deal making.
The Africa Meals Prize has introduced extra than simply recognition to the recipients. Take Ugandan entrepreneur, Josephine Okot, who received the Yara Prize in 2007, for example. Then aged 37, Ms. Okot was honoured for her efforts in reversing Africa’s declining agricultural productiveness, managing to penetrate the hitherto male-dominated seed sector along with her Victoria Seeds enterprise in simply three years. Based on her, it was an actual development driver, remodeling her firm’s prospects and lifting it onto a global pedestal.
The award opened comparable doorways of fortune for the 2017 laureate, Malian entrepreneur Maimouna Coulibaly. Ms. Coulibaly began her firm, Faso Kabo, a small-scale manufacturing in 2007. It has since grown into one of many largest seed producers in West Africa, with a large distribution community for hybrid maize, sorghum, rice, cowpea, peanut and vegetable seeds. It was this quick development and her contribution to boosting farmers’ productiveness that received her the prize.
This demonstrates the worth of recognising the wealthy expertise and innovation in our midst. It isn’t solely the precise and deserved factor to do, but additionally units virtuous cycle in movement. As I replicate on the influence of the Africa Meals Prize over the past 15 years that I’ve been a front-row witness of the varied scientific and entrepreneurial actions unfolding inside the continent, this has been the best perception and supply of satisfaction.
We have now many heroes doing wonderful work in Africa as they contribute in the direction of eradicating poverty and starvation via transformation of our meals techniques. Seeing many younger individuals brilliantly ship options for Africa’s greatest issues provides me hope of an excellent future for the continent, a lot not like the strife we had been attuned to beforehand.
The author is former President of Nigeria and Chair of the Africa Meals Prize Committee
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