Kenyan Professor wins part of Ksh10 million prize for championing food security and agribusiness

Kenyan Professor wins part of Ksh10 million prize for championing food security and agribusiness

Two women working at both ends of the agriculture supply chain in Africa have each been awarded the 2017 Africa Food Prize. Hon. Prof. Ruth Oniang’o, a professor and advocate of nutrition from Kenya, and Mme Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly an entrepreneur and agro industrialist, from Mali were awarded for their exemplary efforts in driving Africa’s agriculture transformation.

The two will share a USD$100,000 (Ksh10.3 million) cash prize as the award seeks to promote sustainable evelopment in the field of agriculture.

Hon. Prof Ruth Oniang’o is recognized as the leading voice of nutrition in Africa and for her relentless advocacy for the availability and affordability of diverse and nutritious crops for millions across the continent. She pioneered nutrition leadership in academia, research, and policy to improve food security and nutrition.

Her groundbreaking work, with farmers’ groups and rural communities connects agriculture and nutrition both in research and practice providing a natural link between agriculture and nutrition.

Mme Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly, on the other hand has been feted for her mission to produce and supply improved and high-yielding seed that have led to improved incomes and nutrition for millions in Mali and other West African countries.

Through sheer hard work and consistency, she has overcome multiple hurdles to build a leading seed company that is fast becoming a model for Africa’s agri-businesses. Her company, Faso Kaba, specializes in the production and sale of a wide range of improved seeds, including cereals, oil seeds, market gardening, fodder and tuber seeds that can improve agricultural yields by up to 40%.

The Prize recognizes and puts a spotlight on shining examples of agricultural projects that are transforming lives and economies. The 2017 Prize winners come from both the public and private sector representing how both groups are working together to transform agriculture into a high value industry sector.

The 2017 AFP awards had over 600 nominees establishing it as the most prestigious prize for African agricultural development.

As a member of Kenya’s Parliament (2003-2007), Hon. Prof Oniang’o dedicated her efforts to alleviating poverty and hunger, with special focus on science and technology, agricultural research and productivity, food security, nutrition, bio-safety legislation, use of fertilizer and other inputs, HIV/AIDS and gender issues.

A strong believer in farming being the bridge between humankind and nature, Prof. Ruth Oniang’o spends most of her time with smallholder farmers and women in rural areas helping them to transform their household’s ability to produce, purchase and consume foods in higher quality and quantities. She reckons that smallholder farmers are the most valuable part of the market and the entrepreneurial value chain.

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