Following the awarding of the 2017 World Food Prize to Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture and current President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, in Des Moines, Iowa, where he announced his decision to dedicate the $250,000 cash prize to set up a fund dedicated to funding Africa youths’ agriculture initiatives, the World Food Prize Foundation has decided to partner Adesina to establish the World Food Prize Africa Institute.
“The World Food Prize-Africa Institute will support young agripreneurs, whom we will call Borlaug-Adesina Fellows. This will allow us to strategically continue Dr. Norman Borlaug’s legacy of taking agricultural technologies to the farmers, and my philosophy of promoting and engaging agriculture as a business”, Adesina announced when he delivered the Laureate Address at a Luncheon during the World Food Prize-Borlaug Dialogue Symposium on Friday.
“The Youth of Africa are the future of the continent and to them I pledge my support”, he had added.
Motivated by the World Food Prize Laureate’s decision, donors have made additional contributions to the fund totaling $600,000.
To support Adesina’s quest, John M. Harrington III of Sheffield Corporation has matched the prize money with an additional $250,000, while John Ruan III, Chairman of the World Food Prize Foundation, has pledged to contribute US $100,000. This brings to US $600,000 the amount now available for Adesina’s proposed fund to grow youth in agriculture and agricultural business.
Adesina praised John M. Harrington III and John Ruan III for their donations, and for supporting his desire for mission.
In the speech titled “Africa’s pathway out of poverty”, Adesina stressed that Africa needed a higher number of younger, educated people in the agriculture sector to succeed.
“They will take agriculture as a business. They will make agriculture ‘cool’. I fully expect the future millionaires and billionaires of Africa to come from agriculture”, he said.
Adesina gave some insight into his personal story, revealing, “This is my story. My father and grandfather were farmers, and became so poor farming they had to work as part-time labourers on other people’s farms. My father told me that farming did not pay. It was through a benefactor that he made it out of the village to get the benefit of education” Adesina said.
“It was that golden opportunity, with a lot of sacrifices that gave me the benefit of an education and today, by God’s grace, has given me an incredible opportunity to stand on the global stage to receive the World Food Prize”.
Adesina said he was on a mission to feed Africa, comparing himself to Paul in the Bible.
He said, “I also hear the voices rising out of rural Africa, saying, ‘Come here and help us get out of poverty.’ This ‘agriculture gospel’ was first preached by Dr. Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Peace Prize-winner, who created the World Food Prize, for he heard the voices of a billion people and, through his dedicated work, delivered a green revolution across Asia that fed a billion people”.
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