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World Food Prize Laureate addresses food insecurity in Africa

Photo by Anna Hastert

World Food Prize Laureate says Africa must enhance agriculture to improve food security.

The World Food Prize recognized Dr. Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, as the 2017 Laureate at a ceremony Thursday. The award rewards Adesina for arousing political will and transforming African agriculture. Adesina says it is a great honor to be recognized as Laureate.

“Lifting millions of people out of poverty is my passion,” Adesina said. “It’s not a job, it’s my passion. It’s my passion because I grew out of poverty myself, and know poverty’s not pretty. We have to look where the poor are and at what we can do to lift them out of poverty.”

Those living in poverty, in Africa, reside in rural areas. They depend on agriculture for social livelihood, but African agriculture has not been performing well. Adesina says food insecurity in Africa does not make sense.

“You have a continent that has 65% of all the uncultivated, arable land in world and it’s not able to feed itself, with almost 300 million people in extreme hunger,” Adesina said. “We have to end that by unlocking the full potential of Africa’s agriculture. When we do that, we’ll be able to lift millions out of poverty, ensure food security and most importantly, end stunting which is a major problem on our continent.”

The World Food Prize gifted Adesina $250,000. The funds will be used to drive change in African agriculture and improve food security for millions.

“It puts wind behind our sail, as we take-off to feed Africa,” Adesina said. “It’s a job that has to be completed. Not only must Africa feed itself, it must feed itself with pride. Africa must fully unlock the potential for agriculture and turn agriculture from something you use for managing poverty to something you use for creating wealth. I feel the World Food Prize gives us the oomph we need to go ahead and get the job done.”