A man who grew up impoverished in his home country of Nigeria has risen to leadership roles in that same country, and is now the 2017 laureate of the World Food Prize.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina received the honor for his work as a reformer and leader of the agricultural sector in Africa. He is currently the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB). According to the World Food Prize website, Adesina has served in roles with the Rockefeller Foundation, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and as Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria.
The World Food Prize is often referred to as the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture. It’s the highest international honor recognizing the achievements of those who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, and availability of food in the world.
Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize, made the announcement Monday during a ceremony at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) headquarters in Washington D.C.
Adesina went to college in his home country of Nigeria before attending Purdue University for a graduate degree.
“[He] then embarked on a journey to use his academic training to, as he said, lift up millions of people out of poverty, especially farmers in rural Africa,” said Quinn.
“What [Adesina] did and what he has done fits right in with what we’re trying to do at every USDA because we all have a challenge,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Dr. Adesina knows that our work is not done. The challenge of feeding 9 billion people in a very short time will continue as we address the hunger issue.”
Adesina joins two other faculty members from Purdue University who received the World Food Prize: Gevsia Ejeta in 2009 and Philip Nelson in 2007.