On the side lines of the African Green Revolution Forum 2018 in Kigali a panel chaired by Strive Masiyiwa, Executive Chairman and Founder of Econet; Olusegun Obasanjo, ex-President of Nigeria and Svein Thore Holsther, Yara CEO presented this year’s $100,000 African Food Prize. For the first time in the award’s history – running since 2005 and formerly known as the Yara Prize – the prize was given to an institution rather than an individual.
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) took first place as a leading research institute combatting food insecurity across the continent.
Director General of the Institute Nteranya Sanginga accepted the prize. “I’m extremely honoured to be receiving this prize on behalf of IITA and proud to be part of a group of researchers dedicated to building lasting and relevant solutions for the continent,” he said. The organisation aims to lift 11.5m people out of poverty and revitalise 7.5m hectares of farmland by 2020. Sanginga gave the example of aflatoxin, a carcinogen found in maize which is poisonous when eaten, and explained how IITA was able to find and distribute cure.
IITA scientists have also managed to breed 400 varieties of improved and high-yielding cassava which has led to the crops permeation throughout the continent as a basic foodstuff and commodity. Talking about the prize Obasanjo said: “It seeks to recognise outstanding individuals and institutions that are leading change for agriculture and agribusiness in Africa.”