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Adesina pledges $250,000 to aid Africa's agripreneurs

DES MOINES, Iowa — Akinwumi Adesina, the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate and president of African Development Bank (AfDB) in Nigeria, has pledged to devote his prize money for a fund in global support of Africa’s young farmers and “agripreneurs.”

“I hereby commit my $250,000 as a cash prize for the World Food Prize award to set up a fund fully dedicated to providing financing for the youth of Africa in agriculture to feed Africa,” Adesina told more than 800 attendees from 50 countries at the 2017 World Food Prize, Oct. 18-19 at the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium’s Borlaug Dialogue in the State Capitol in Des Moines.

“We will arise and feed Africa,” added Adesina, who was accompanied by his wife, Grace, and their two children, Rotimi and Segun. “The day is coming very soon when all its children will be well-fed, when millions of small-holder farmers will be able to send their kids to school.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds officially named Adesina the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate, the 46th in its history, on behalf of the World Food Prize Foundation.

Vice President Mike Pence commended Adesina in a speech read on his behalf by Mark Green, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“As our global food system is stretched, and the need to feed more people grows, agricultural transformation will require persistence from leaders like you in driving change and capitalizing on public- and private-sector expertise,” Pence said. “The United States is and remains committed to food security, and we will continue to work with leaders like you to find innovative ways to end global hunger.”

The Borlaug Dialogue occurs each October near World Food Day in conjunction with awarding the World Food Prize. The Prize is the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

Founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize, the World Food Prize has honored 46 outstanding individuals, to date, who have made vital contributions throughout the world.

The World Food Prize annually hosts the symposium and a variety of youth education programs to help further the discussion on cutting-edge global food security issues and inspire the next generation to end hunger.

In collaboration with the Initiative for Global Development, the Assoc. of African Agricultural Professionals in the Diaspora, Iowa State University, Michigan State University and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, the AfDB brought together stakeholders to discuss how to expand economic opportunities for Africa’s youth throughout the agricultural value chain, from lab to farm to fork.

Africa has the world’s youngest population with 60 percent younger than 35 years old. There are 420 million aged 15-35, and this segment of the population is expected to double to 840 million by 2040.

Working with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Adesina said the AfDB is empowering young farmers under the Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth program.

Through the ENABLE Youth program, the AfDB and its partners are empowering youth at each stage of the agribusiness value chain with plans to train 10,000 “agripreneurs” in African countries, launching at least 300,000 enterprises and creating 1.5 million jobs during the next five years.

“By empowering youth at each stage of the agribusiness value chain, we enable them to establish viable and profitable agribusinesses, jobs and better incomes for themselves and their communities,” said Adesina, who earned both his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural economics at Purdue University.

The World Food Prize also recognized Adesina’s work of the past two decades with the Rockefeller Foundation, and as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Adesina said the AfDB is accelerating agricultural development through its Feed Africa Strategy, with a planned investment of $24 billion in the next 10 years.