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AfricaRice Scientist Wins 2021 Borlaug Field Award for Work in Water Management for Resilient Rice Production

Farming First Farming First

2021 Recipient of the Borlaug Field Award announced!

Dr. Elliott Dossou-Yovo, a scientist and agriculture specialist who has spearheaded innovative water management systems for resilient rice production, has today been announced as the 2021 Recipient of the Norman E. Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application.

Dr. Dossou-Yovo’s ground-breaking research and close collaboration with smallholder farmers has empowered thousands of rice farmers throughout West Africa to use climate-smart cultivation techniques to earn greater incomes, achieve food and nutrition security, and enhance agroecosystems. Dossou-Yovo is Associate Principal Scientist and Agriculture and Climate Change Specialist at AfricaRice Center in Côte d’Ivoire.

Established in 2011 with an endowment by The Rockefeller Foundation, the Borlaug Field Award is presented annually to a young scientist under the age of 40 who best emulates the characteristics demonstrated by Dr. Borlaug while developing miracle wheat in Mexico.

“I am truly honored to be selected as the tenth recipient of the Borlaug Field Award, named after the great agricultural scientist and World Food Prize founder, Norman Borlaug,” said Dossou-Yovo. “I was inspired by his credo, ‘take it to the farmer.’ Agriculture is the wisest investment we can make since it will ultimately contribute the most to real wealth, morality and satisfaction. Now more than ever, our collective actions are required.”

Although Dossou-Yovo’s journey at AfricaRice started after the civil unrest in Côte d’Ivoire under strained resources, he persisted in his research and excelled, becoming the designated lead of climate-related research at the Center. At AfricaRice, he focused on the improvement of water management and development of rice-based agricultural food systems in Africa. He initiated the widespread adoption of “Smart-Valleys,” with the intention of improving water control and further extending rice-based farming systems. This low-cost, innovative approach decreased the impact of drought on rice plants, which led to increased production of rice and farmers’ incomes and reinforced food security.

President of the World Food Prize Foundation, Barbara Stinson, said, “This year we honor an exceptional African scientist who truly understands and has harnessed the innovative spirit of smallholder farmers in West Africa.His work with rice farmers to co-design and implement solutions for water scarcity has given many communities the tools they need to meet the challenges of climate change and thrive. We are honored to have him as the tenth anniversary recipient of the Borlaug Field Award.”

Dossou-Yovo’s dedication to research, efficient project management and effective communication has led to the scaling of his work throughout sub-Saharan Africa. He developed training manuals and e-learning tools, provided on-the-job training, and organized field days and workshops for hands-on capacity-building of thousands of smallholder farmers and other stakeholders with Smart-Valleys and many other important innovations. He then used the outcomes of these activities to further improve the systems and techniques to best meet the needs of farmers.

As a young and skillful scientist, Dossou-Yovo has initiated collaborations with CGIAR centres, the World Bank, universities, development agencies such as Rikolto, private industry and other organizations in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Tanzania. His ability to push through all challenges has led to the advancement of his mission in achieving measurable and meaningful impact in farming communities.

More information:
The Borlaug Field Award Announcement recording is available on the World Food Prize Foundation’s YouTube.

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