AFRICA – International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigeria based international centre has received the Africa Food Prize award from the African Green Revolution in Agriculture (AGRA) at the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) Gala Dinner held in Kigali, Rwanda.

The award celebrates individuals and institutions with Africa’s agricultural agenda alongside efforts to change the reality of farming in Africa from a struggle to survive to a business that strives.

The US$100,000-prize targets those putting bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated across the continent to create a new era of food security and economic opportunity for all Africans.

IITA received both the cash prize and a trophy of recognition for efforts in meeting Africa’s most pressing challenges such as hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation.

The research firm has grown its presence from Nigeria to 8 country offices and regional hubs in East, Central and Southern Africa.

Speaking on the achievement, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, IITA’s Director General said their success could be attributed to develop relationships and collaborations through research 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.”

IITA contributions

The institute played a major role in production and distribution of Aflasafe, a product that can remove 80 to 99 percent of a deadly, cancer-causing fungus, aflatoxin common in maize and groundnuts.

Its effort in defining agriculture as a source of employment for young people on a continent that is grappling with a significant youth employment challenge led to the formation of the 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.

“I’m convinced that today’s young generation of Africans are a major asset for African economies and contrary to conventional wisdom, they are not averse to working in agriculture,” Dr. Sanginga said.

“They just need some guidance and training to point them to the commercial opportunities available and, like many of the young entrepreneurs we’ve worked with, are capable of seizing on those opportunities and doing great things.”

IITA scientists played a critical role in tackling invasive fall armyworm pest in Africa, developing new drought-tolerant maize varieties for farmers in 13 countries.

In collaboration with HarvestPlus and the Nigerian National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), IITA helped usher in a new day for cassava production with the release of a cassava enriched to naturally produce vitamin A.