Coffee beans

Yara Prize highlights critical role of rural finance and improved market access for smallholders in Africa

Jul 21, 2009
Oslo (2009-07-21): Farmers' organization and African banker win the highly coveted Yara Prize for their respective roles in transforming smallholder agriculture on the continent. With the economic crisis threatening to reverse years of progress in the fight against hunger and poverty there is an even more urgent need to boost food production in Africa.
This year's Prize recognizes that farmers need more than increased access to inputs and higher yields - if productivity gains are to be sustained we need to strengthen the entire value chain.
The 2009 Yara Prize for an African Green Revolution, presented annually by the Yara Foundation, is awarded to Peter Munga, Chairman of Equity Bank in Kenya and the National Smallholder Farmers' Association of Malawi (NASFAM) for their transformational contributions to the reduction of hunger and poverty in Africa.
Mr Munga is an accomplished African business leader and entrepreneur whose dedication to the unbanked poor continues to enable millions of smallholder farmers access to much needed affordable savings and credit facilities so that they can break out of the poverty cycle and build better lives.
As the founder of Equity Bank he has seen the organization move from a small village-based building society to a fully listed commercial bank that is home to over half of all bank accounts in Kenya. Equity Bank has continued to pioneer a range of innovative financing arrangements that have significantly increased farmers' access to credit facilities including; mobile rural banking services, innovative electronic banking, post harvest warehouse receipting schemes and widespread agro dealer financing facilities.
NASFAM has been equally dynamic, bringing together farmers, providing the necessary extension services and promoting farming as a viable business among smallholder farmers - most of whom are women. NASFAM's work has been credited with playing a key role in achieving Malawi's recent progress. It has given farmers an effective voice in policy negotiations, built their commercial capacity, catalyzed the development of a successful agricultural commodity exchange and promoted the use of sustainable agricultural practices.
"Making progress against some of the world's most ambitious development goals starts with the smallholder farmer. Both Equity Bank and NASFAM are prime examples of a locally driven value chain approach that engages farmers directly, increases their yield and improves access to markets", Arne Cartridge, Secretary General of the Yara Foundation says. "Both of the winners of this year's Yara Prize deserve praise and recognition for helping to innovatively strengthen agricultural value chains and increase Africa's food security."
The Prize consists of a USD 100,000 endowment, a crystal trophy and a diploma to be received by each laureate.  Representatives of NASFAM and Mr Munga will receive their awards on 5 September 2009 in Oslo, Norway, at an award ceremony hosted by the Yara Foundation.
For further information about the Yara Prize for an African Green Revolution or the Yara Foundation, please visit:
Mr. Arne Cartridge, Secretary General, Yara Foundation
Mobile: +47 47 900 900
Mr. Asle Skredderberget, Vice President Corporate Communications, Yara
Mobile: +47 41 44 36 10
Notes to Editors:
The National Smallholder Farmers' Association of Malawi (NASFAM) is the largest independent, smallholder-owned membership organization in Malawi. Through a sustainable network of smallholder-owned business organizations, NASFAM promotes farming as a business in order to develop the commercial capacity of its members, and delivers programs that enhance farmer productivity. The NASFAM concept grew out of a USAID funded project to support and organize smallholder tobacco production. Since 1995, the NASFAM focus has diversified production to other cash and food crops. Around 80% of Malawi's population depends on smallholder farming for their livelihood. Like most Malawian smallholder farmers, an average NASFAM member farms less than one hectare of land to support a family of six people.
Peter K. Munga serves as Chairman of Equity Bank Limited and National Oil Corporation of Kenya Limited. Mr Munga holds directorships in several organizations including British American (K) Insurance, Equatorial Nut Processors Limited, and Micro-Enterprise Support Programme Trust (MESPT). Mr Munga founded Equity Bank in 1984. His first customers were small-scale dairy coffee and tea farmers. He encouraged the small peasant savers and borrowers to support the financial institution by enrolling them into the bank from where they were paid for their crops without being subjected to punitive charges. Under the leadership of Mr Munga, Equity evolved from a Building Society, to a Microfinance Institution to now the all-inclusive Nairobi Stock Exchange public listed Commercial Bank.
The Yara Prize is awarded by the Yara Foundation for an African Green Revolution, established in 2005 by Yara International. The objective of the Foundation is to support former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for an African green revolution and the UN Millennium Project's goal of halving poverty and hunger in Africa by 2015.
The Board of the Yara Foundation, also serving as jury of the Yara Prize, in 2009 consists of:
  •          Dr. Thorleif Enger, Former CEO of Yara International ASA, Oslo, Norway (chairman)
  •          Abenaa Akuamoa-Boateng is the head of nutrition, Ministry of Health, Kumasi, Ghana.
  •          Peter Hartmann is the director general of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria.
  •          Pedro Sanchez is the director of tropical agriculture at The Earth Institute at Columbia University, New York, USA.
  •          Susan E. Whelan is a lawyer, and a former Canadian government minister for international cooperation, Toronto, Canada.
    Yara International ASA is the world's leading chemical company that converts energy, natural minerals and nitrogen from the air into essential products for farmers and industrial consumers. As the number one global supplier of mineral fertilizers we help provide food for a growing population. Yara's global workforce of 8,000 employees represents the great diversity and knowledge that enables Yara to remain a leading performer in the industry. It is the only international fertilizer producer with a significant presence in Africa.
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