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Global Panel member wins 2017 World Food Prize

Global Panel member Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, has been announced as the 2017 World Food Prize laureate. The prize is the foremost international award to recognise the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. 

Speaking to the BBC, Dr Adesina said "The award is not just about recognition for me, it is also about putting the wind behind the sails of what still needs to be done in African agriculture”. He added, "I am really somebody who came out of poverty myself, and poverty is not pretty. I know that in order to create opportunities for the several tens of millions of young people in rural Africa today, we have to make agriculture a business.”

The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, the Prize has honoured 45 outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions throughout the world.

“Nutrition fuels grey matter infrastructure, the minds of the next generation that will drive progress and innovation. If we do not act, we will fail to unleash the full potential of millions of people around the world”.

Dr Adesina has been a member of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition since it was formally established in August 2013 at the Nutrition for Growth Summit in London.

As president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), he has worked to assure that Africa can be self-sufficient in food production, while also addressing malnutrition and stunting. His focus on economics and child nutrition is to be particularly commended. At a previous Global Panel event, he said “Nutrition fuels grey matter infrastructure, the minds of the next generation that will drive progress and innovation. If we do not act, we will fail to unleash the full potential of millions of people around the world”.

Before becoming AfDB president, Dr. Adesina was Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for Nigeria, where he championed agricultural investments and implemented bold policy reforms, pursuing innovative agricultural investment programs. During this time, in 2012, he was conferred with the second highest National Honour in Nigeria, the Commander of the Order of Niger, for his outstanding service to his country.

Until this Ministerial appointment, Dr. Adesina was the Vice President of Policy and Partnerships for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) where he fostered cooperation among African governments, donors, farmers’ organisations and the private sector. He was also associate director for Food Security at the Rockefeller Foundation for over a decade, as well as holding senior leadership positions within the international agricultural research centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), including the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

In 2007, Dr. Adesina was awarded the prestigious YARA Prize in Oslo, Norway for his leadership in pioneering innovative approaches to improve access of agricultural inputs for African farmers. In 2010, he was appointed by the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, as one of 17 world leaders to galvanize international support for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. A year later, in 2013, he was awarded the Forbes Africa Person of the Year.

Dr. Adesina has a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University, Indiana, USA and a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Nigeria. He continues to be a consummate scholar of African agriculture and economics.

Dr. Adesina’s passion for improving food systems and agriculture for nutrition made him an ideal candidate for the Global Panel. When describing his role, he said “For me it's not a job. It's my mission.”

The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition wholeheartedly congratulate its member and colleague on winning this award.  

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