Dr Catherine Nakalembe and Dr André Bationo are the 2020 winners of the Africa Food Prize (AFP) for their exceptional contribution towards the promotion of food security across the continent.
The AFP is the preeminent award for recognizing an extraordinary individual or institution whose contributions to African agriculture are forging a new era of sustainable food security and economic opportunity for all Africans. The USD 100,000 prize celebrates Africans who are taking control of Africa’s agriculture agenda and changing the reality of farming in Africa from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives. It puts a bright spotlight on bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated across the continent.
To this matter, Dr Catherine Nakalembe, a Ugandan researcher, has been honoured for her dedication to improving the lives of smallholder farmers by using satellite technology to harness data to guide agricultural decision-making. Her work in this area has helped prevent the disastrous impacts of crop failure. Her efforts have also promoted the formulation of policies and programs that are directly impacting farmers against the impacts of food failure.
Dr André Bationo, on the other hand, is a researcher from Burkina Faso and has been recognised for his efforts into the improvement of micro-dosing fertilizer technology. He has also scaled-up an inventory credit system which allows farmers to store grain and receive a credit when prices are low, thus selling their grain when prices are higher. The micro-dosing technology and inventory credit systems are already benefitting millions of farmers in West Africa, having spread from the villages in Niger where Dr Bationo first implemented these innovations to the wider regions.
The Africa Food Prize Committee, formed of preeminent leaders that are chaired by the former Nigerian President, is composed of H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr Birama Sidibe, Dr Eleni Z. Gabre-Madhin, Prof. Joachim von Braun, Amb. Sheila Sisulu, Prof. Sheryl Hendriks, Dr Vera Songwe, and Dr Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, who congratulated the efforts of the duo emphasising the need for a simultaneous productivity push and policy pull to transform farming from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives.
“We need innovative Africans like Dr Bationo and Dr Nakalembe to demonstrate the potential of new knowledge and technology together with practical technologies that help improve the value proposition for farmers. These two are indeed exceptional Africans,” the former Nigerian President declared.
“Both Dr Catherine Nakalembe and Dr André Bationo represent exactly the kind of entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that African agriculture depends on to transform. Their achievements are remarkable,” said Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of Yara International - the AFP began as the Yara Prize, which was established in 2005 by Yara International ASA in Norway to honour achievements in African agriculture.
During her acceptance speech, Dr Catherine Nakalembe announced that she is keen on working with various stakeholders in promoting confidence among ministry leaders to enable them to proactively dedicate resources towards food security rather than retroactively addressing the negative impacts of major food events.
“I believe that together, we can harness the great potential of our farms to achieve sustainable food systems across the continent.”
On his part, Dr Bationo highlighted that he is proud to be living in a time when the continent is leveraging various technology combining fertilizers and access to finance by the smallholder farmers to enhance agriculture productivity.
“It is great to see farmers embracing opportunities offered by disruptive digital technologies to increase productivity and promote access to services and markets. I am honoured to be part of this disruption.”
Last year, the Africa Food Prize got a ‘little sister’, known as the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize.
Historically, in 2016, the AFP was awarded to Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze, a Nigerian and the former President of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Dr Nwanze was recognized for his outstanding leadership in putting Africa's smallholder farmers at the centre of the global agricultural agenda. The year later, in 2017, the winners were Kenyan professor Ruth Oniang’o and Malian Mme Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly who were jointly recognized for their exemplary efforts in driving Africa’s agriculture transformation. Instead, in 2018 the AFP award went to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for its leadership in generating agricultural research and technologies that have improved food security, nutrition, and incomes for millions of people across Africa. While last year, 2019, Dr Emma Naluyima, a smallholder farmer and private veterinarian from Uganda, and Baba Dioum, a policy champion and agricultural entrepreneur from Senegal were recognized for their remarkable achievements in demonstrating and promoting innovative and sustainable growth in Africa´s agriculture through improved resource use and market links.
Congrats to Dr Catherine Nakalembe and Dr André Bationo from the whole Urban Kapital team!