Inaugural Africa Food Prize Committee Meeting Chaired by Former Tanzanian President Spotlights Critical Issues in Africa’s Food Systems

The critical importance of facilitating progressive transformations in Africa’s agricultural and food systems was underscored by His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania, during his inaugural meeting as Chair of the Africa Food Prize Committee on August 6, 2023, in Dar es Salaam.

“This is the inaugural meeting under my chairmanship, and we are convening on a subject that is not only sensitive but critical for the growth and development of agriculture – particularly food systems on the African continent,” Kikwete asserted.

Throughout his career, Kikwete has been a robust advocate for agricultural development. Now, as the new Chair of the Africa Food Prize Committee, he welcomes members to collaborate on this urgent discourse. Subsequently, the floor was handed over to Mr. Boaz Blackie Keizire, the Head of the Africa Food Prize Secretariat, to discuss the agenda thoroughly.

The Africa Food Prize, a prestigious award recognizing transformative changes in African agriculture, carries with it a substantial reward of US $100,000. “This financial incentive is intended not only to reward those who have significantly impacted the African agricultural landscape, but also to encourage further innovation and commitment in enhancing Africa’s food systems. This sizeable monetary recognition underscores the value and importance the committee places on groundbreaking work in this vital sector,” noted  Mr. Keizire, The funds for this notable prize is jointly provided by the AGRA and Yara International.

Keizire provided a comprehensive overview of the precise annual routine followed by the committee in selecting the nominee who most merits the Africa Food Prize. “Usually, the Chair of the committee announces the selection and nomination process on the 15th of January every year,” he outlined. “This year, due to a transition in the chairmanship, the process faced a minor delay.”

However, the slight delay did not hinder the progress. The announcement was made successfully by the new Chair, His Excellency Kikwete, on the 17th of January, initiating a four-month period of scrutinizing the numerous nominations. Although the process was scheduled to conclude on the 17th of June, it was extended by an additional week to process the high volume of nominations.

Keizire emphasized the rigorous selection process, stating, “A shortlist is identified based on a stringent set of criteria. The committee then deliberates to select the winner. This high-level diligence ensures that the final decision truly represents the merit and integrity of the Africa Food Prize.”

The winning nominee will be announced at the AGRF gala dinner and award ceremony on the 7th of September 2023, an event presided over by His Excellency Kikwete. Expressing gratitude, Keizire acknowledged the committee members’ dedicated efforts in ensuring the process’s transparency and integrity, ultimately reflecting the prize’s significance.

This meeting signifies the Africa Food Prize Committee’s commitment to championing transformative changes in African agriculture. The Africa Food Prize, a $100,000 award, celebrates Africans who are taking control of Africa’s agriculture agenda, shining a spotlight on bold initiatives and technical innovations that can create a new era of food security and economic opportunity for all Africans.

The Africa Food Prize Committee boasts an impressive lineup of distinguished members dedicated to the transformative growth of Africa’s agriculture. Chaired by His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, the former Tanzanian President, the committee also includes esteemed personalities such as Ms. Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, a renowned social entrepreneur, Dr. Eleni Z Gabre-Madhin, a pioneer in commodity exchange, Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, an advocate for women’s empowerment in agricultural sciences, Mr. Birama Sidibé, a seasoned agribusiness professional, Dr. Vera Songwe, an eminent economist, and Professor Sheryl L Hendricks, a renowned expert in food security. Together, they bring a wealth of knowledge and diverse perspectives that are instrumental in identifying and honoring innovations and excellence in African agriculture.

The Africa Food Prize continues its mission of recognizing and fostering agricultural innovation and excellence across the continent, building on the values and principles of its predecessor, the Yara Prize, while giving the award a distinctly African identity.