(Xinhua) -- Kanayo Nwanze, President of the
Rome-based International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD)
was on Wednesday unveiled as the winner of the inaugural Africa
The Nigerian scientist with extensive
experience in global development was announced the winner of the
first Africa Food Prize during the ongoing African green
revolution forum in Nairobi.
Former Nigerian President and chair of
the Africa Food Prize Committee, Olusegun Obasanjo hailed
Nwanze’s contribution to food and nutrition security agenda in
“Nwanze is a model of how a leader can
make a difference in the lives of people on the ground. His
accomplishments on behalf of African smallholders cannot be
downplayed,” Obasanjo said.
The African Food Prize is a reward for
individuals and institutions who demonstrate outstanding
commitment to transform food production systems on the
Winners of the Africa Food Prize are
awarded 100,000 U.S. dollars after demonstrating unwavering
commitment to change the fortunes of smallholders through home
Obasanjo lauded Nwanze’s pioneering
initiatives to transform livelihoods of African smallholders
through advocacy to reform policies and improve access to
“Nwanze has inspired African leaders
and policymakers to craft policies and strategies that would
transform farming, feed the population and tackle rural
poverty,” said Obasanjo.
In the last four decades, Nwanze has
worked as a senior researcher and administrator for several
international research organizations.
He is credited for introducing high
yielding rice varieties in West Africa during his helm at the
Africa Rice Centre.
As President of IFAD, Nwanze has
initiated programs whose impact on subsistence farming in Africa
During his acceptance speech, Nwanze
said a paradigm shift is an imperative to ensure small scale
farming in Africa is profitable and sustainable.
“We need to invest in smallholders and
establish conducive policies to enable them thrive against a
backdrop of serious threats like climatic stress, distorted
value chains and shrinking arable land,” Nwanze said.