Jun 15, 2006
Yara is the leading global supplier of mineral fertilizers and the only international fertilizer producer with a significant presence in Africa. As part of its Centennial celebration in 2005 Yara established the Yara Foundation to implement action in support of the UN Millennium Development Goals and a Green Revolution in Africa. The Yara Prize is awarded by the Foundation to commend outstanding efforts to increase food production and availability in Africa, contributing to the economic and social development of the continent and for the benefit of its people.
The Yara Foundation recognizes that a Green Revolution in Africa will be achieved by the hard work of African farmers. For the 2006 Yara Prize, the Yara Foundation has focused on candidates working at the grassroots level, whose concepts and working methods lend themselves to scaling-up and spreading proven performance.
Women produce 80 percent of Africa's food, yet they receive less than 10 percent of the credit given to small-scale farmers, receive less than 7 percent of farm extension services and own only 1 percent of the land. African women food farmers are meeting the basic survival needs of an entire continent, but instead of being recognized for this extraordinary achievement they have the lowest socio-economic status in all of African society. If Africa is to achieve a green revolution, this situation must change - African women food farmers must be empowered. As UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said, "A Green Revolution in Africa will happen only if it is also a gender revolution."
Two winners will share the Yara Prize for 2006 - Celina Cossa, Founder and President of the General Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, Mozambique, and Fidelis Wainaina, Founder of the Maseno Interchristian Child Self Help Group, Kenya. The Prize amounts to USD 200,000 and will be split equally between the recipients.
The Yara Foundation Board wishes to honor the sustained contribution of the two winners in the fight against hunger and poverty in their respective countries. Ms. Cossa has been driven by the need to rebuild Mozambique after a devastating civil war, and Ms. Wainaina's effort in Kenya is part of an initiative to help children at risk due to hunger and poverty, and aggravated by HIV/AIDS.
For more than a quarter of a century, Ms. Cossa, a former schoolteacher, has helped empower small-hold farmers in Mozambique and built a sustainable food supply for thousands of people. In 1980, she founded a network of six cooperatives that grew vegetables for sale in the Mozambican capital Maputo. The General Union of Agricultural Cooperatives now consists of 10,000 small-hold farmers organized in over 200 cooperatives. The activities have expanded to cover financial services, construction, industrial and agricultural production. Ms. Cossa is a source of inspiration for everyone fighting for an African Green Revolution and an important role model for women in Africa. Women have formed the backbone of Ms. Cossa's efforts, and today these women play a key role on the national stage as accountants, bankers, teachers and politicians.
Ms. Wainaina originally founded the Maseno Interchristian Child Self Help Group (MICH) to support orphans and street children. She works at village level to keep children off the streets, enabling families led by widows or orphans to continue to farm their land and cater for themselves in a sustainable way. Agricultural innovations and new low cost technologies developed by agricultural research programs active in the area are transmitted through MICH, which has developed into a network of communities sharing best practice and resources. Approximately 80 demonstration sites have been set up in over 20 villages in the Kisumu-Maseno area near Lake Victoria in Western Kenya. Over the past decade, malnourishment has been eradicated in these communities and income has increased significantly.
The Yara Foundation Board hopes that this award will underpin the significant progress that has been achieved by the two winners in their grassroots work, that it will serve as a source of inspiration for African women in their efforts to end poverty and hunger and create development at village level throughout the continent.
Supplementary information on the prizewinners and the African Green Revolution:
The Yara Foundation Board (the African Green Revolution Yara Prize committee):
Dr. Thorleif Enger, President and CEO of Yara International ASA, Oslo, Norway.
Professor Pedro Sanchez, Director of Tropical Agriculture, the Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York.
Dr. Marco Quiñones
Regional Director for Africa, Sasakawa Global 2000, Addis Ababa.
Joan Holmes, President, The Global Hunger Project, New York.
Dr. Peter Hartmann
Director General of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria.
Ingegerd Rafn, Media Relations
Telephone (+47) 24 15 72 46
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Hamed Brodersen, Media Relations
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Yara International ASA is a leading chemical company that converts energy and nitrogen from the air into essential products for farmers and industrial customers. As the number one global supplier of mineral fertilizers and agronomic solutions, we help provide food for a growing world population. Our industrial product portfolio includes environmental protection agents that safeguard air and water purity and preserve food quality. Yara's global workforce of 6,800 employees represents great diversity and talent enabling Yara to remain a leading performer in its industry.