Nigeria’s Agric Minister, Akinwumi Adesina has been awarded the prestigious ‘Forbes Africa Person of the Year Award’

minister agricNigeria’s Agric Minister, Akinwumi Adesina has been awarded the prestigious ‘Forbes Africa Person of the Year Award’ defeating four other prestigious nominees for the continent-wide prize.

Commenting on the award, the Minister said that with honour and humility, he wishes to dedicate the prestigious award to Africa’s farmers and the new cadre of young business entrepreneurs who have discovered the hidden gem for sustainable wealth creation in the continent’s agricultural practice. “With dwindling oil fortunes and the end of the telecoms boom, the next big investment frontier is unlocking Africa’s vast agricultural potential to feed the continent and the world,” he said.

Adesina who was nominated for his bold reforms in Nigeria’s agricultural sector has empowered more than six million farmers across Nigeria to embrace agriculture as a business. A passionate defender of African farmers, Adesina is relentlessly unlocking opportunities for farmers and changing Africa’s story about agriculture to wealth creation away from poverty reduction.

Within two years of his taking office, Adesina turned agriculture away from being a development program into a business activity generating wealth for millions of farmers. According to him, Africa with its huge potential cannot be a museum of poverty. “My passion is to use agricultural business and finance innovations to turn Nigerian and African farmers and agribusinesses into millionaires and billionaires. Nigeria must become a global powerhouse in agriculture,” Adesina noted.

It could be recalled that his Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) ended four decades of corruption in the fertilizer sector, eliminating the middlemen and scaling up food production by nine million metric tonnes in the first year – almost half of the 2015 production target. To further enhance this process, he introduced an Electronic Wallet System which allows smallholder farmers to receive electronic vouchers for subsidized seeds and fertilizers directly on their mobile phones and enable them to pay for farm inputs from private sector agricultural input dealers.

Assessing his impacts, one can truly say that the system has reached over six million farmers and enhanced food security for thirty million persons in rural farm households. Women farmers, previously marginalised under the old fertiliser distribution system now have better yielding fields with subsidised farm inputs received on their mobile phones. Speaking on this, the Chairperson of the Nigerian Women Farmers Association, Lizzy Igbine remarked about the Minister that he is one of a kind in working hard to improve human lives. Adding, he has returned dignity to farmers.

With the success of the electronic wallet system, it is noticeable that Nigeria has become the first country in Africa to reach farmers with subsidised farm inputs through their mobile phones. The impact is already being noticed beyond Nigeria with several African countries – Brazil, India and China now expressing interest in adopting the electronic wallet system in their agricultural sectors. Adesina has championed African agriculture for over two decades, defending the poor and helping several African countries to develop innovative solutions for reaching millions of farmers with finance, farm inputs and supportive policies.

In recognition of Nigeria’s reforms and progress, global and domestic investors have signed over USD 4 billion of executed letters of investments to boost Nigeria’s agriculture. The World Bank, African Development Bank and other global development finance institutions have put up over USD 2 billion in support of his bold initiatives.

Often referred to as ‘Africa’s leading development entrepreneur,’ he was appointed by the UN Secretary – General, Ban Ki Moon as one of the seventeen global leaders along with Bill Gates to help the world achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Bill Gates, who sits on the Eminent Persons Group which advises President Goodluck Jonathan on Nigeria’s agriculture, has termed Adesina’s policies and reforms in agriculture “extraordinary.”

“The results achieved in Nigeria, he observed could not have been possible without the immense support of Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan. His passion and leadership inspires us to achieve even greater results. For agriculture was Nigeria’s past and in agriculture – as a business – lies Nigeria’s greater future,” Adesina stated.

Source: Federal Ministry of Information, Nigeria.

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