The Yara Prize 2013 has been awarded to Mr. 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 (FANRPAN).
The two were selected for their work for African farmers and for the continent’s green revolution. The award recognizes their effective entrepreneurial work which has spread knowledge that has inspired smallholder farmers and youth to improve their lives, and their policy dialogue and advocacy which has enabled change in the African agricultural sector.
Both laureates have, through personal commitment and special efforts, translated ideas on the development of African agriculture into impactful results in their respective areas of work. They are both examples of the can-do spirit and drive that is playing a vital role in transforming agriculture in Africa.
“Yara creates impact by addressing global challenges. By awarding the Yara Prize, we salute the champions of sustainable agricultural development. I wish to extend my personal congratulations to the laureates,” Jørgen Ole Haslestad, President and CEO of Yara and Chairman of the Yara Prize Committee, said.
The two laureates will be celebrated during a Yara Prize Ceremony in Maputo, Mozambique, on 4 September in connection with the African Green Revolution Forum 2013.
In picking Mr. Ikegwuonu, Yara Prize recognized his entrepreneurial work of using radio as transmitter of sustainable agricultural development and environmental conservation beneficial to rural poor small farmers in the Imo State in south-east Nigeria.
Mr. Ikegwuonu and the Smallholders Foundation develop and broadcasts 10 hours of educational radio programs daily to 250,000 listeners. The radio programs are held in the local Igbo language.
Since 2007, 65 percent of his radio program listeners have increased their agricultural yield by 50 percent and their household income by 45 percent.
Mr. Ikegwuonu has a goal of reaching 3.5 million farmers in almost 5000 villages in his own region. Since 2008, 4,500 students have been trained and 10 school gardens of Nigeria have been established. Through the Future Farmers Program, Mr. Ikegwuonu imparts sustainable agricultural, environmental management, entrepreneurship and financial management skills to young people through the establishment of the School and Community Gardens in secondary schools and rural communities across Nigeria.
Advocating for impact
Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda is awarded the prize for her many 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 (FANRPAN), where she has served since 2004.
FANRPAN is perceived to be one of the most influential policy networks across the African region. Its focus areas include policy research and advocacy work on food policy, agricultural productivity, natural resources and environment, and the impact of HIV/AIDS on farmers’ livelihoods. Dr. Sibanda has played a global leadership role in increasing the visibility and importance of agriculture as a key development driver. In 2009, Dr. Sibanda led the global “No-Agriculture, No-Deal” campaign and mobilized African civil society organizations to push for the inclusion of agriculture in the UNFCCC climate change negotiations.
Dr. Sibanda has built the advocacy capacity of FANRPAN through her innovative use of strategic outreach and communication activities, which help leverage and amplify the work done by the organization and its partners at the ground level. Through this multi-pronged approach Dr. Sibanda has effectively built recognition for FANRPAN as one of the most recognized and trusted voices on African agriculture and food security, including a strong focus on women farmers.
FANRPAN extended its mandate to become Africa-wide in 2012, and has identified youth as an important stakeholder group to be further nurtured and included in agricultural policy processes, launching the FANRPAN Youth in Agriculture Award in 2012.
Kevin Wafula, http://www.africasciencenews.org