IITA wins 2018 Africa food prize

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The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has emerged winner of the 2018 African Food Prize,making the Ibadan-based institution the first to receive the distinguished Priz at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Kigali, Rwanda.

According to PAMACC News, the independent Africa Food Prize Committee, chaired by H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, selected 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.

“IITA stood out to us for its steadfast and inspiring commitment to a research agenda that aligns with both our African traditions as well as the evolving needs of African farmers and consumers for the latest advances food production,” said Obasanjo.

“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.”

Speaking as he received the Prize on behalf of his institution, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, IITA’s Director General, stated his belief that a great deal of IITA’s success rests on its ability to develop relationships and collaborations that allow the fruits of its research to be scaled up and made available to millions of farmers.

“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,” 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.”

The Africa Food Prize selection committee also cited the institute’s role in moving from being a developer to becoming the producer and distributer of Aflasafe—a product that can remove 80 to 99 percent of a deadly, cancer-causing fungus called aflatoxin that contaminates maize and groundnuts.

Under Dr. Sanginga’s leadership, IITA began a Youth Agripreneurs Program in 2012 to help young Africans create profitable agribusinesses.

The program has since been adopted by the African Development Bank as a model for its ENABLE Youth initiative. AfDB has tapped IITA to lead the efforts, which has ambitions to reach 800,000 young people in at least 20 African countries.