The Africa Food Prize honours outstanding contributions within every aspect of agriculture and food production that is clearly related to combating hunger and reducing poverty in Africa. In light of this, two exceptional professionals, who are both at the same time successful agricultural producers, have today been announced as the joint winners of the 2019 Africa Food Prize.
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.
Rather than pursue a promising institutional career, Dr Naluyima quit employment to become a farmer, transforming her one-acre plot into a showcase of profitable and environmentally friendly agriculture. The secret to her success is innovative integration of crop and livestock production, based on recycling of farm resources to provide natural fertilizers and pesticides as well as biogas. Dr Naluyima, who generates $100,000 a year from her farm, also hosts up to 10,000 visiting farmers to share knowledge through her advisory service.
Also a prosperous farmer, Baba Dioum has excelled in the policy sphere, leading the introduction of key reforms in the agriculture sector of his own country, before taking on influential roles in regional and Africa-wide policy development. With a knack for fostering dialogue and commitment, Mr Dioum successfully promoted cross-border agricultural trade in West Africa and helped significantly to advance the trade dimension of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). During a press conference at the ongoing African Green Revolution Forum in Ghana, Baba Dioum told the press about his journey and how he was able to formulate policies to effect change. “Working in this capacity allowed me to know that national policy links all the sectors together and agriculture is not left out,” he said.
H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, who chairs the Africa Food Prize Committee, congratulated Dr. Naluyima and Mr. Dioum on behalf of other Committee members, praising them for their courage in defying the status quo to open new pathways toward more prosperous agriculture, and for their solidarity with many others who wish to follow in their footsteps.
“What most strikes me about this year´s winners is how their academic and professional success has gone hand in hand with their success as farmers,” said H.E. President Obasanjo. “Rather than turn away from the countryside like so many others, they have embraced farming, using their talents and knowledge to demonstrate its enormous commercial possibilities. In other words, they practice what they preach, and this lends real credibility to their message about the value of technical and policy innovation in agriculture.”
The 2019 winners, chosen from a total of close to 200 nominees, exemplify the central aim of the Africa Food Prize, which is to put a spotlight on innovations that promise to create a new era of food security and economic opportunity for all Africans. The two winners’ achievements strongly complement one another, showing how both small-scale production and high-level policy reforms can contribute to agricultural transformation.
Not content with the immediate financial rewards of her one-acre farm, Dr Naluyima has turned it into a platform for sharing knowledge about her innovative model with the 10,000 people who seek her out each year. She and her husband have also set up a primary school – still on their one-acre plot – that gives special emphasis to science and technology for it’s close to 300 students. Her experience and achievements speak volumes about the importance of this kind of education for enabling rural women and youth to build more appealing livelihoods.
“I am a firm believer that if you take good care of a farm, it will take care of you all the way to the bank. I know this to be true, as it is what I do on my one-acre farm where I practice integrated farming,” said Dr Naluyima.
“I feel honoured to be a winner of the Africa Food Prize, and hope this connects me with new sources of knowledge to share. A passion to succeed is not enough; you also need knowledge, of which I am always in search.”
Baba Dioum’s whole life and career have revolved around markets and trade in agricultural commodities. It thus comes as no surprise that, while pursuing his policy work, he also engaged in the production of vegetables and later potato for export, eventually shifting to mango production for the export market. To help consolidate West Africa’s position in this market, he created a regional network of mango exporters and developed a successful regional brand.
“We Africans are good conservationists, and we also have strong collective traditions,” said Mr Dioum. “These are important sources of strength, as we organize ourselves to compete in markets, using new technologies, and seek to ensure that our agribusinesses are sustainable. I am humbled to receive this prize and sincerely hope it will draw attention to what Africa’s aspiring entrepreneurs can do when the conditions are right.”
Dr. Agnes Kalibata, president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), another key supporter of the Africa Food Prize, also expressed her delight with this year´s outcome: “The lives and accomplishments of these winners reinforce my optimism that Africa is on the cusp of a new era of growing prosperity, driven by sustained agricultural transformation. Achievements like theirs can, in turn, leverage digital transformation, which is the focus of this year´s Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).”
The winner of the 2018 Africa Food Prize was the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). The first organization to receive the Prize, IITA was awarded for its deep commitment over many decades to producing a steady stream of innovations that have boosted the nutrition and incomes of millions of people across Africa.