Africans Honored For Inspiring Farmers, Continent’s Green Revolution

Africans Honored For Inspiring Farmers, Continent’s Green Revolution

Two African champions of sustainable agricultural development were honored for entrepreneurial work that inspired smallholder farmers and youth to improve their lives, and in the process enabled change in African agriculture, according to a report in EurActiv.

Receiving prizes for “the can-do spirit and drive that is playing a vital role in transforming agriculture in Africa” were Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, founder and CEO of the Smallholders Foundation in Nigeria; and Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network.

Both were awarded The Yara Prize, which recognizes outstanding contributions to African agriculture with a focus on young women and men showing innovation and entrepreneurship.

Ikegwuonu uses radio to promote sustainable agricultural development and environmental conservation beneficial to poor rural smallholder farmers in Southeast Nigeria. He and the Smallholders Foundation develop and broadcast 10 hours daily of educational radio programs in the local Igbo language to 250,000 listeners. Since 2007, 65 percent of his listeners have increased their agricultural yield by 50 percent and their household income by 45 percent, the report said.

Ikegwuonu established school and community gardens in secondary schools and rural communities across Nigeria, helping young people with environmental management, entrepreneurship and financial management skills.

Sibanda was awarded the prize for years of work generating knowledge and facilitating dialogue to develop informed, research-based development through policy and advocacy across Africa as CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, where she has served since 2004.

The network is perceived as one of the most influential policy networks across Africa, the report said. It focuses on food policy research and advocacy, agricultural productivity, natural resources and environment, and the impact of HIV/AIDS on farmers’ livelihoods.

Sibanda played a global leadership role in increasing the visibility and importance of agriculture as a key development driver. She built recognition for the network as one of the most recognized and trusted voices on African agriculture and food security, including a strong focus on women farmers. The network became Africa-wide in 2012, and has identified youth as important stakeholders to be included in agricultural policy processes.