Stories tagged: borlaug dialogue

The African Fertilizer Summit – 10 Years On

20 October 2017

Des Moines, Iowa

A high-level panel debate assessing Africa’s progress in increasing fertilizer use, 10 years on from the landmark African Fertilizer Summit. The panel will review the success of the historic Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer for an African Green Revolution and discuss how to drive greater and faster progress in addressing nutrient deficiencies in African soils, in order to support economic growth, social development and climate change responses. Read more >>

Securing Africa’s Farming Future: Where Are the Youth?

In this guest post, Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Vice President for Country Support, Policy and Delivery at AGRA, tells the stories of many inspiring African youth who are transforming agriculture’s image.

Africa is the world’s youngest continent with more than half of the population under 25 years of age. Since most African countries rely on agriculture as their main source of income, involving the youth is an imperative. Experts agree that a strong involvement of Africa’s youth in rural development, agriculture and natural resources management will boost food security in the continent. However, young people remain almost invisible, which is a critical threat to food security.

Young Africans want opportunities in agri-business that other non-agriculture related businesses such as in IT, oil and gas and tourism have offered their peers. Most young people want a quick return, and they won’t be satisfied working long hours on the farm to produce just one metric ton of maize per hectare. If the output was five tons or more, then perhaps young people would get excited about a future in farming.

Using technology to transform agriculture

African youth have the power to spearhead the modernization and transformation of Africa’s agricultural sector through their interest in technological change and innovative market solutions. Agriculture is becoming a serious contender in startup circles and success is prevalent. Whether as hi-tech developers or as large-scale producers, some young Africans are starting to challenge the outdated image of agriculture.

A great example is FarmDrive, created by young innovators in Kenya, that is helping to close the large financing gap for farmers. The software helps farmers improve their record-keeping and farm performance data, enabling them to prove credit-worthiness to potential lenders, all via their mobile phones. These innovations can mobilize the energies and ambitions of young people, helping to create good jobs and reduce migration to urban areas. Those reluctant to pick up a hoe can be inspired by this new wave of tech-savvy entrepreneurs.

Market – led agriculture

African agriculture has traditionally been geared towards meeting household needs but there is now consensus that agriculture must be a business as everybody including farmers depends on the market. Promoting market-led agriculture would not only increase farmer incomes but it would also increase its appeal to the youth. There are many innovations that help farmers to aggregate their produce, thereby facilitating their access to markets. One such initiative is e-Granary promoted by the Eastern Africa Farmers’ Federation. Instead of sitting on the roadside waiting for clients, farmers organized in groups of 15 to 40 report their planted areas and expected harvest volume and date through *492# or to the EAFF call center. This information is used by the federation to inform buyers who provided the inputs to the farmers. Once the produce is sold, the platform deducts the cost of the inputs owed by each farmer and pays the balance to the farmers via mobile money.

Growing entrepreneurship opportunities along agricultural value chains also offer youth an attractive entry into the sector. AGRA’s Strengthening Agricultural Input and Output Markets in Africa (SAIOMA) project promoted youth entrepreneurship in Kenya, Malawi and Zambia through training in agro-dealership as well as provision of start-up matching grants.

For instance, Isaiah Mutwiri, 35, from Tigania West in Kenya decided to quit his job with a seed company to start selling agricultural and veterinary products without any training or experience in running a business. The business struggled, and Isiah ran into debts to keep it afloat until SAIOMA trained him in book-keeping and in practical day-to day management of his business. After engaging in demand creation activities for products, including offering extension services by visiting farmers, Isiah’s client base went from 200 clients a month to more than 400 and he opened a second shop, within two agricultural seasons.

Inclusive Finance arrangements

Improved access to mechanization plays an important role in maximizing the benefits of “AgTech” like improved seeds and fertilizers, and in attracting youth into agriculture. However, most farmers’ plots and incomes are inadequate to justify investments in mechanization. The Financial Inclusion program of AGRA has 3 partnerships in Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania to develop mechanization services provision as a business. This “Uber for Tractors” operates under names like Trotro in Ghana, TingA in Kenya, Tringo in Tanzania and hello tractor in Nigeria. This innovation offers ample job opportunities for young people in the mechanization services centers by becoming an operator or a mechanic. Alternatively young farmers can become technology-driven farmers by using services such as e-Granary, TingA, I-shamba and WeFarm.

Abundant opportunities for youth in agriculture

Clearly opportunities exist for directing African youth toward agribusiness, if done in an inclusive manner. Governments, civil society and the private sector have a role to play in developing comprehensive programs that forge widespread commitment and partnership with young prospective farmers.  This effort must extend well beyond reorientation within formal training settings. It must involve the development of detailed agri-business plans and creditworthy loan applications, leading to the establishment of efficient and effective networks of new agri-business ventures and services across the entire agricultural value chain.

There are many examples of how the youth are showing the way in agriculture in different parts of Africa.

Joseph Macharia, the founder of Mkulima Young, is another example. Known as the “Facebook Farmer” in East Africa, Mkulima Young is an online platform that engages young people who are interested, inspiring and using agriculture to generate income and employment. The platform focuses on assisting youth with information, market access, and financing.

To inspire and encourage young people to see the economic appeal of agricultural ventures, Mkulima Young tells the stories of “Mkulima champions”: youth who are into agriculture as a business and earning income from it.  Mkulima also has a forum where young people can ask questions and share experiences. It supports a free online marketplace, which is also integrated with the organization’s famous social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.

In Uganda, farmer-entrepreneur Emma Naluyima has been dubbed “Mama Pig” by the press for her innovative and lucrative approach to small-scale farming. Working on a plot of just one acre, Naluyima has showed how a diversified farm including livestock, fisheries, vegetable crops and even bio-gas can combine into a major economic success story. Now operating a demonstration farm, Naluyima is showing young people across Uganda that there is a future in farming that goes far beyond the simple hoes of their forebears.


Across the continent in Mali, Salif Niang and his brothers are pioneering another kind of farming future for young Africans. Together they founded Malo, a social enterprise which aims to combat farmer poverty and chronic malnutrition by working with local smallholder farmers to produce international-quality, branded rice fortified with life saving vitamins and minerals. Malo, and other start-ups like it, are showing young Africans that agriculture can be both a business and a social good.

Both Emma and Salif are part of a new crop of young Africans in agriculture who are committed to creating a new narrative about farming in Africa – telling new stories of what works, and spreading the word about opportunity. Communications programs like the Aspen Institute’s New Voice Fellowship can help to create other public champions for Africa’s agricultural future.

AGRA’s role

At AGRA, we see agriculture as an essential driver of economic development and an area of great opportunity for young people in Africa.  However, we also recognize that rural youth encounter serious constraints in accessing technology, affordable finance, information, skills, land, and markets, and has formulated corrective strategies. By providing support to the governments in the eleven countries where we work, catalyzing consortiums to work in integrated agricultural market-led value chains, we believe we can increase farmer incomes and showcase that agriculture can be a competitive high income sector.

We need a collective effort

Governments cannot do anything alone, but they can lead policy development as well as influence the direction of funding flows. They need to support young people to get into agriculture and agri-business through developing and enacting appropriate policy environments, access to skills, innovations and technologies. Most governments’ existing strategies are officially oriented to promote agricultural growth and food security for the millions of their rural constituents who are small-scale farmers. However, most of these strategies assume unhindered access to land and therefore leave out the youth.

There is no doubt that migration from farm to non-farm sectors, and from rural to urban areas, will provide the brightest prospects for youth led transformation and modernization of Africa’s economies. However, it will happen only as fast as educational advances and growth in the non-farm job opportunities will allow, which in turn depend on income growth among the millions of youth who should be still engaged in agriculture.

In the words of Dr. Akin Adesina, the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate:

“Despite the challenges, more and more young Africans are waking up to the potential of agriculture. By working together, governments, businesses and funders can open more doors for them. There are youths that are gainfully engaged in agriculture. Let us seize the opportunity to create partnerships to take to scale what we already know is working. Without investing in the youth, there will be no African Agriculture to talk about in the future as the youth already constitute the majority.”

Farming First is the official media partner for the World Food Prize Foundation’s Borlaug Dialogue 2017. For more content from speakers and participants at the event, follow @FarmingFirst and sign up for our Daily Digest here


Realizing Latin America’s Potential as a Global Breadbasket

In this guest blog, Dr. Víctor Villalobos, Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture discusses how Latin America can meet its potential to become a global food basket – feeding its own population and the rest of the world.

As our global population increases, so must our agricultural production: fast, significantly and sustainably. This increase needs to be achieved, primarily by increases in productivity, rather than an increase in cultivated areas, and it all needs to be done under increased pressure for natural resources and greater climate variability.  These challenges represent unique opportunities for human imagination, and offer Latin America a unique opportunity to step up as a “Global Food Basket”. Continue reading

Tackling the “Other” Malnutrition on the Rise in Africa: Obesity

In this guest post, Sheryl Hendriks, Director of the Institute for Food Nutrition and Well-being at the University of Pretoria, South Africa argues an unexpected but dangerous form of malnutrition is on the rise in Africa, and outlines recommendations from the Malabo Montepellier Panel on how to tackle it.  

The Borlaug Dialogue, happening this week in Iowa, will convene global leaders, farmers, agribusiness and development experts to address the most critical issues facing global food security. When we think of food security and nutrition, especially in Africa, a key question that comes to mind is how countries can best tackle malnutrition?

When thinking of malnutrition we can be forgiven for conjuring a vision of listless, pot-bellied children with dull eyes and skinny limbs. This sadly remains a reality in many countries across the continent with a total of 14 million children wasted – too thin for their height. But there is another form of malnutrition that is spreading silently through Africa, and it is just as dangerous: obesity. Continue reading

Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium: The Road Out of Poverty

18-21 October 2017

Des Moines, Iowa

The theme of the  2017 symposium, “The Road out of Poverty”, encapsulates the power of treating agriculture as a business, and the impact of truly “bringing it to the farmer”, as Norman Borlaug taught us. Among the speakers is “Africa’s Norman Borlaug”, the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate Akinwumi Adesina of the African Development Bank who has made it his life’s mission to promote agriculture, good nutrition, and education as the keys to “uplifting millions out of poverty.” Read more >>

Kenneth M. Quinn: 30 Heroes for 30 Years of the World Food Prize

As the World Food Prize turns 30 in 2016, Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation selects 30 hunger-fighting heroes to celebrate the milestone.






borlaug1. Norman Borlaug, founder of the World Food Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate dedicated his life’s work to improving agriculture through research and development to address world hunger. His pioneering wheat varieties developed during the 1940s and 50s paved the way for the “Green Revolution”. Read more >>


2. John Ruan Sr, Chairman Emeritus of the World Food Prize Foundationjohn-ruan

John Ruan built up an extensive network of businesses from Des Moines in his native Iowa, including The Ruan Companies and Ruan Transportation Management Systems. Internationally, Mr Ruan founded the Iowa Export-Import Trading Company, which reached 50 countries. Read more >>

3. M. S. Swaminathan, first World Food Prize Laureateswaminathan

Following in the footsteps of Norman Borlaug, Dr. Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan was the first recipient of the World Food Prize in 1987 for his part in the introduction of high-yielding wheat and rice varieties to India’s farmers. Dr Swaminathan is ranked alongside his mentor as one of the leaders of the “Green Revolution”. Read more >>

4. Evangelina Villegas, first female laureate of the World Food Prizeev

Born in Mexico City in 1924, Dr Villegas broke ground both as a woman and as a chemist and researcher at the forefront of her field, becoming the first female laureate of the World Food Prize in 2000. Her work with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) was recognised as contributing to an improved diet of children in Ethiopia thanks to the creation of quality protein maize (QPM). Read more >>

john-denver5. John Denver, musician and humanitarian

An internationally acclaimed musician, John Denver was also one of the five founders of The Hunger Project, an organisation devoted to finding solutions to chronic hunger. He received the presidential “World Without Hunger Award” from President Ronald Reagan. Read more >>



6. Catherine Bertini, UN World Food Prize Laureate

Catherine Bertini was considered the driving force behind reform of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) from 1992 to 2002, and used the proceeds of her 2003 World Food Prize award to establish the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education at the Friends of the World Food Program. Read more >>

7. CorazoPHILIPPINES-CORAZON AQUINO-2n Aquino, former president of the Philippines 

The late former president of the Philippines advocated for those less fortunate throughout her life, and helped raise the profile of the World Food Prize when she publicly congratulated the first Laureate, Dr M. S. Swaminathan. She later accepted an invitation to join the WFP’s Council of Advisors, lending greater prestige to the organisation. Read more >>

8 & 9. Ray Bushland and Ed Knipling, World Food Prize Laureates who eliminated screwworm
Drs Bushland and Knipling received the World Food Prize in 1992 in recognition of their Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), an environmentally friendly way to control insects that prey on livestock and crops. The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), which involves breeding and releasing sterilised male insects to eradicate pest populations, was credited with eliminating screwworm and more recently inspired similar work to control the mosquito responsible for spreading Zika virus. Read more >>

bushland     knipling

yuan10. Yuan Longping, greatest living plant scientist 

Dubbed the “father of hybrid rice”, Dr Longping’s work on high yielding rice varieties helped reverse China’s food deficit to food security within three years. He shared the 2004 World Food Prize with Dr Monty Jones, an African rice breeder, and for the past five years, Dr Longping has welcomed interns from the World Food Prize Youth Institute at his center. Read more >>

11. Gebisa Ejeta, developer of drought-resistant sorghumejeta

Dr Gebisa Ejeta has crossed new frontiers in both his personal and professional life after overcoming poverty in Ethiopia to develop sorghum hybrids that withstood drought to improve the food supply of millions in sub-Sahara Africa. Dr Ejeta received the World Food Prize in 2009 and has inspired a generation of agricultural scientists in Africa. Read more >>

plowright12. Walter Plowright, World Food Prize Laureate who eliminated rinderpest

Since the decline of the Roman Empire, the virus responsible for rinderpest has been devastating livestock until Dr Plowright developed the tissue culture rinderpest vaccine (TCRV), a key victory in the fight to eliminate the pest. Dr Plowright received the World Food Prize in 1999. Read more >>

13. Pedro Sanchez, soil fertility expertsanchez

Dr Pedro Sanchez was awarded the World Food Prize in recognition of his contribution to preserving the delicate ecosystem thanks to his work on soil fertility. A Cuban national, Dr Sanchez was inspired by the country’s tropical red soil and has repeatedly challenged the perception that such land is useless for agricultural production. Read more >>


14. Daniel Hillel, micro-irrigation pioneer

Dr Daniel Hillel’s new techniques for bringing water to crops transformed food production in Israel, earning him the 2012 World Food Prize. His work, knowing as “micro-irrigation”, maximised water use and helped increase crop yields while minimising environmental degradation. Read more >>

15. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of BRAC, world’s largest NGOSir Fazle Hasan Abed

Since founding the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee in 1972, Sir Fazle Abed has turned the NGO into the biggest and most effective anti-poverty organisation in the world. Now known as BRAC, it has helped 150 million people improve their lives in his native Bangladesh and 10 other countries. Read more >>

herren16. Hans Herren, laureate responsible for controlling mealybug

Dr Herren confronted an unprecedented pest crisis when he arrived in Africa aged 31 but within 10 years, he almost single-handedly developed a technique to control mealybug, an insect that was threatening cassava production and bringing the possibility of widespread hunger. Read more >>

17. Jo Luck, former CEO of Heifer Internationaljo-luck

Under Jo Luck’s leadership, Heifer International became one of the most distinguished hunger-fighting not-for-profit organisations in the world. The 2010 World Food Prize laureate added to the “Passing on the Gift” tradition with a “Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development” model of community development. Read more >>

18, 19 & 20 Van Montagu, Chilton and Fraley, pioneers of modern agricultural biotechnology

Joint recipients of the 2013 World Food Prize, Drs Marc Van Montagu of Belgium, and
Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert T. Fraley from the US were recognised for their individual achievements in agricultural biotechnology. Their innovations paved the way for improved crop yields with better disease and pest resistance, and tolerance for extreme climate variations. Read more >>

montagu      fraley    chilton

dr-rajaram-hol-2221. Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram, Borlaug successor

Dr Rajaram, Indian born and citizen of Mexico, succeeded Dr Borlaug in leading the CIMMYT’s wheat breeding program, developing a remarkable 480 wheat varieties. He received the 2014 World Food Prize for his contribution to increasing world wheat production by more than 200 million tons. Read more >>

22. Ronnie Coffman, leading agronomist IF

A member of the World Food Prize’s Council of Advisors, Dr Coffman has a distinguished record in plant breeding and agronomy. Upholding the legacy of Dr Borlaug, Dr Coffman serves as Vice Chair of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, and received the American Society of Agronomy’s (ASA) International Service in Agronomy Award in 2005. Read more >>

23, 24 & 25. Monty Jones, Maria Andrade and Robert Mwanga, proponents of African science

Drs Maria Andrade and Robert Mwanga, developers of the orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP), together with distinguished rice breeder Dr Monty Jones, are among the most preeminent African agriculture scientists. Dr Andrade and Dr Mwanga were among the recipients of the 2016 World Food Prize. Read more >> 

IF        IF       mwanga

bill-gates26. Bill Gates, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill Gates, founder of the largest private foundation in the world, announced his ambitions to bring the Green Revolution to Africa at the Borlaug Dialogue symposium just a month after Dr Borlaug passed away in 2009. Since his first speech on global agriculture, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated substantially to Borlaug scholars programmes. Read more >>

27 & 28 George McGovern and Robert Dole, former Senators committed to school feeding

Former US Senators George McGovern and Robert Dole received the 2008 World Food Prize for their joint leadership in tackling hunger among schoolchildren. Their collaboration helped reform the Food Stamp Program in the 1970s while their continued campaigning eventually saw the establishment of a permanent international school feeding program. Read more >>

mcgovern      bob-dole

29 & 30. Ryoichi and Yohei Sasakawa, leading hunger fighters

Ryoichi Sasakawa, the late chairman of The Nippon Foundation, was one of the first international leaders to take on the 1980s hunger crisis in Africa, working with Dr Borlaug to establish the Sasakawa Africa Association in 1986. His son and successor, Yohei, received the Dr Norman E Borlaug Medallion in recognition of his work bringing the Green Revolution to Africa. Read more >>

220px-ryoichisasakawa_face       sasakawa