The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture , IITA has won the 2018 Food Prize award which is worth 100,000 dollars. The institute becomes the first institution to receive the distinguished Africa Food Prize at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Kigali, Rwanda.
IITA is a non profit organization that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger , malnutrition, poverty and natural resource degredation.
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.
According to him “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” .
In recent years, that work also has included a critical focus on connecting crop science to creating employment for Africa’s youth, and ensuring African farmers can adapt to the stresses of climate change and the growing threat for an array of crop pests and plant diseases.
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 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.
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” , Sanginga said.
IITA scientists have developed hundreds of new, improved and high-yielding varieties of major African dietary staple crops. They include almost 400 new varieties of cassava, a plant once considered a poor man’s crop which now has uses ranging from bread flour to beer.
IITA has also led efforts to breed new varieties of banana, cowpea, maize, soybean and yam that are suited to the African region’s wide diversity of growing conditions and dietary preferences.