A non-profit organization based in Ibadan, Oyo State International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has been awarded the 2018 Africa Food Prize in leadership and innovation in finding solutions to major concerns affecting the continent’s agriculture sector.
This award was given in Kigali, Rwanda during the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) on Friday, 9th September 2018. The award comes with a cash prize of $100,000 and a trophy of recognition.
The Non-Government Organization has been in existence for 50 years and is known for its innovations in agriculture in order to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation.
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While receiving the prize on behalf of the Institution the Director-General Dr. Nteranya Sanginga said the success of the IITA rests on its ability to build relationships and collaborations that have helped the fruits of its research to be scaled and made millions for farmers.
“I’m extremely honored 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,” said Sanginga.
“But it would be remiss of me if I didn’t acknowledge the important role of our various partners, from other research centers to governments to the private sector, without whom our research might never have seen the light of day.”
He also referred to the interventions that the organization’s research brought to Rwanda.
“For instance, in Rwanda, cassava crops were about to decline four years ago because of a viral disease. Then, the Minister of Agriculture came to consult us for a solution. And, now, cassava crops are improving thanks to our disease-resistant cassava varieties”, he said.
An Independent Food Prize Committee headed by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former President choose the IITA for its “deep commitment over many decades to producing a steady stream of innovations that have boosted the nutrition and incomes of millions of people across Africa.” (The Times Rwanda).
“From the cassava we’re still eating today, to the valuable and nutritious soybeans we now grow in our fields, to maize varieties that can withstand drought and deadly toxins – our diets and our agriculture businesses would be much poorer today without IITA’s leadership, and its willingness to forge powerful bonds with African farmers and African communities,” Obasanjo observed.
The President and Chief Executive Officer of Yara International Svein Tore Holsether said that the Yara Prize which is now Africa Food Prize since inception in 2005 has honoured people and organizations with a strong voice in the development of agriculture in the African continent.
“To achieve real transformation, we need to mobilize across sectors, and research organizations like IITA will play a crucial role, providing valuable science, vital in making sure we can produce enough food, which is also nutritious and environmentally friendly,” Holsether said.
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is the first institution to win the Africa Food Prize. Previous awards have been given to individuals who have contributed to development in agriculture and food security.
Credit: The Times Rwanda