Jul 04, 2007
The Yara Foundation recognizes that a green revolution in Africa can neither be achieved nor sustained without private sector entrepreneurship to provide agricultural inputs and develop agrodealer networks. For the Yara Prize 2007, the Yara Foundation therefore focused on candidates who have shown both entrepreneurial excellence and the ability to work at many levels, from on-the-ground initiatives to strategy and policy.
The Board of the Yara Foundation considers Akinwumi Adesina and Josephine Okot to be outstanding examples of a new generation of African entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks, take the lead and break new ground within African agriculture and food security.
As the founder and managing director of Victoria Seeds Ltd, Josephine Okot is ably demonstrating how to develop new markets and a local private-sector agricultural inputs industry in her native Uganda. Her efforts to reverse the decline in agricultural productivity in Uganda and other countries of the region is paying off. Okot has also taken a leadership role in lobbying for appropriate policies and an institutional framework that help to integrate the African seed sector with the global economy.
Okot responded to the news of being awarded the Yara Prize by stating: "I am mesmerized by this grand honor. The YARA prize is an invaluable endowment to our company and the seed industry of Uganda. The team at Victoria Seeds are energized and motivated with the news of this prestigious award which will enable our company reach out to more small-holder farmers by engaging more agri-input stockists. It is my hope that this recognition can be an inspiration to the women entrepreneurs of East Africa."
"My fellow laureate is innovative and tenacious with a contagious enthusiasm for an African Green Revolution.There couldn't be a more deserving candidate than Akinwumi Adesina."
Akinwumi Adesina is widely known for his efforts to make farm inputs available to poor smallhold farmers. He developed a rural agrodealership model to allow owners of small village shops to develop into agrodealers selling agricultural inputs. He helped the Rockefeller Foundation develop a program that provides technical training and certification to this network of agrodealers. Adesina is currently Associate Director, Food Security and Africa Regional Program at the Rockefeller Foundation.
Adesina responded to the news of being awarded the Yara Prize saying, "This is great news. I am excited for all the hardworking rural agrodealers who are doing such a wonderful job to get inputs to poor farmers across Africa. This is all about them. They are the rural businesses - mostly run by women - that will carry the green revolution to the door steps of the rural poor. This award is recognition of their great efforts and remarkable entrepreneurship. They are the real heroes. I accept this award on their behalf and I will donate the financial grant that accompanies the award to support the continued vital work of agrodealers in Africa."
Dr. Thorleif Enger, Chairman of the Yara Foundation Board called the two laureates "examples of the entrepreneurial spirit and drive that is playing a vital role in lifting Africa out of poverty." He emphasized the necessity of both the bottom-up approach exemplified by Josephine Okot and the broader strategic and policy approach of Akinwumi Adesina in creating Africa's green revolution.
Award ceremony. The Yara Prize 2007 award ceremony will take place on September 1st 2007 in Oslo, Norway. The Prize will be awarded at a ceremony rounding off the second African Green Revolution Conference which convenes in Oslo on August 29.
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 its people. The Prize is made up of a financial grant of USD 100,000 to each of the laureates, and a diploma and a trophy. The prizewinner is free to decide how to utilize the Prize in order to further the sustainable greening and development of Africa.
The Yara Foundation Board
Dr. Thorleif Enger, President and CEO of Yara International ASA
Professor Pedro Sanchez
, Director of Tropical Agriculture, the Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York.Dr. Marco Quinones
Regional Director for Africa, Sasakawa Global 2000, Ethiopia. Dr. P. Hartmann
Director General of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigeria
Yara International ASA 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.
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