Last week’s Food Systems Summit highlighted Africa’s commitment to transforming food systems as Agnes Kalibata, the United Nations secretary-general’s special envoy for the event, noted that 48 out of 55 countries on the continent held national dialogues on food systems in the lead-up to the summit.
Though delegates pointed out that much transformation has yet to begin, Devex has put together a list of experts who have already made advances toward achieving food security in Africa. They have all received the Africa Food Prize for their contributions to promoting sustainable food security on the continent.
André Bationo is a soil scientist originally from Burkina Faso who works at the International Fertilizer Development Center in Ghana. Bationo won the prize in 2020 after pioneering a “microdosing” technique for applying fertilizer that can significantly increase farm yields.
Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly is the founder and owner of Faso Kaba in Mali. The company specializes in the production and sale of a wide range of seeds that can improve agricultural yields by up to 40%. In 2017, she received the Africa Food Prize for “exemplary efforts in driving Africa’s agriculture transformation.”
Baba Dioum is a forestry engineer, “policy champion,” and agricultural entrepreneur who successfully advocated for the introduction of key reforms in Senegal’s agriculture sector and “helped significantly to advance the trade dimension of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme” — a policy framework for agricultural transformation and food security and nutrition. He was a joint recipient of the prize in 2019.
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Catherine Nakalembe is a remote sensing specialist from Uganda. She was the first researcher to work with African governments using remote sensing data for agriculture and drought monitoring to assess the condition of crops. Nkalembe is a professor at the University of Maryland and jointly won the Africa Food Prize with Bationo in 2020.
Dr. Emma Naluyima, a smallholder farmer from Uganda who also holds degrees in veterinary medicine, transformed her 1-acre plot into a showcase for profitable and environmentally friendly agriculture that includes hydroponic farming, pig breeding, and a fishery. In 2019, Naluyima received the prize for “demonstrating and promoting innovative and sustainable growth in Africa’s agriculture.” She also leads a school in Uganda that focuses on teaching modern farming techniques to children.
Ruth Oniang’o, who won the prize in 2017, is a leading academic expert in food security and nutrition in Kenya with a record of influencing government policies. She was the first nutrition professor in Kenya and has trained numerous young professionals in the field. She is also the founder and editor in chief of the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development.