Ugandan researcher Dr. Catherine Nakalembe has been announced as the joint winner of the 2020 Africa Food Prize (AFP).
Dr. Nakalembe shares this years prestigious AFP award with Burkina Faso’s Dr. André Bationo.
This is the second year in a row that a Ugandan is winning the coveted award after Dr. Emma Naluyima won the award in 2019.
The chairman of the Africa Food Prize committee and former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo hailed the duo for their exceptional contribution towards the promotion of food security across the continent.
Dr. Catherine Nakalembe has been honored for her dedication to improve the lives of smallholder farmers by using satellite technology to harness data to guide agricultural decision-making.
“Her work in this area has helped prevent potentially disastrous impacts of crop failure. Her relentless efforts have also promoted the formulation of policies and programs that are directly impacting farmers against the impacts of food failure,” said the AFP in a statement.
On the other hand, Dr. André Bationo, has been recognized for his efforts into the improvement of micro-dosing fertilizer technology.
Dr. Bationo also scaled-up an inventory credit system which allows farmers to store grain and receive a credit when prices are low, thus selling their grain when prices are higher.
“The micro-dosing technology and inventory credit systems are already benefitting millions of farmers in West Africa, having spread from the villages in Niger where Dr. Bationo first implemented these innovations to the wider regions,” said the AFP
Congratulating the winners, Obasanjo, said that the efforts of the duo reinforces the call for a simultaneous productivity push and policy pull to transform farming from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives.
“We need innovative Africans like Dr. Bationo and Dr. Nakalembe to demonstrate the potential of new knowledge and technology together with practical technologies that help improve the value proposition for farmers. These two are indeed exceptional Africans,” he said.
The Africa Food Prize exists to reward pioneering efforts to overcome obstacles across the agriculture value chain including limited access to high quality agricultural inputs, difficulties in accessing markets as well as the negative impact of climate change.
“Both Dr. Catherine Nakalembe and Dr André Bationo represent exactly the kind of entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that African agriculture depends on to transform. Their achievements are remarkable,” says Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of Yara International.
In her acceptance speech, Dr. Catherine Nakalembe said that she is keen on working with various stakeholders in promoting confidence among ministry leaders to enable them to proactively dedicate resources towards food security rather than retroactively addressing the negative impacts of major food events.
“I believe that together, we can harness the great potential of our farms to achieve sustainable food systems across the continent.”
On his part, Dr. Bationo said he is proud to be living in a time when the continent is leveraging various technology combining fertilizers and access to finance by the smallholder farmers to enhance agriculture productivity.
“It is great to see farmers embracing opportunities offered by disruptive digital technologies to increase productivity and promote access to services and markets. I am honored to be part of this disruption.”
With the task of annually selecting winners from a list of exemplary nominees, the Africa Food Prize Committee is an independent body of preeminent leaders that is chaired by the former Nigerian President, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo. The other committee members are Birama Sidibe, Dr. Eleni Z. Gabre-Madhin, Prof. Joachim von Braun, Amb. Sheila Sisulu, Prof. Sheryl Hendriks, Dr. Vera Songwe, and Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg.