With 200 million hectares, sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly half the world’s uncultivated land, land that could be used for resilient agricultural practices. But locally, farmers are faced with many environmental challenges preventing them from cultivating these lands. In eastern and southern parts of the continent, farmers are experiencing changes in rainfall patterns as a result of climate change. Soil is becoming depleted and many farmers are unable to afford fertilizers to treat their crops.

Dr. Agnes Kalibata (@Agnes_Kalibata), President of Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the former Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources in Rwanda, says now is the time to shift the focus of international development efforts to the continent’s farming industries, both big and small, and use them to foster high-level, long-lasting economic growth.

“Every farmer in the world needs good seeds – it’s good for American farmers as it is good for African farmers. Every farmer in the world needs the right types of soils to be able to drive the right type of production. They all need the right type of capacity and awareness to be able to drive the right processes. And they also need access to markets. So it’s looking at these things in different environments. There’s not going to be one solution that fits every situation, but there’s going to be a set of tools that can be deployed to specific situations and drive change.”

-Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA

Among Dr. Kalibata’s toolset for change, is the the Africa Food Prize. Dr. Kalibata said she believes it is necessary to recognize men and women who are transforming the future of African agriculture and provide opportunities for smallholder farmers to gain exposure to various innovations and technologies to take their businesses to the next level.

Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA, says revitalizing Africa's agribusinesses is a priority.

Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA, says revitalizing Africa’s agribusinesses is a priority.

What is the Africa Food Prize?

The Africa Food Prize is a $100,000 award given to individuals and institutions who are excelling in the agricultural sector with scaleable and sustainable innovations that address pressing issues such as food security, climate-smart practices, youth unemployment, and inclusion in farming.

From Yara Prize to Africa Food Prize – why the transition and why now?

Since 2005, the Yara Prize issued by Yara International ASA in Norway, sought to celebrate achievements in African agriculture. After years of being “nurtured” by the international community, Dr. Kalibata said the award is now where it needs to be, giving all a chance for recognition,

“Whether it’s youth, women, other individuals, scientists, and politicians – anybody in the environment that has tools or solutions that can reach hundreds of farmers, gets recognized because it’s about transforming lives of smallholder farmers.”

How are winners selected?

Winners are selected by a panel of experts in the agricultural sector. This year’s panel is led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (@OluObasanjo).

If you’d like to nominate someone for the panel’s consideration, be sure to visit the Africa Food Prize website and do so by June 10, 2016.

When will the prize be given out?

The 2016 award ceremony is set to take place during the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) which will be held in early September, in Nairobi, Kenya.

How often will the prize be given?

Annually.

Can there be more than one winner?

Yes.

What is the theme for this year’s Africa Food Prize?

This year’s prize will be focusing on the importance of developing innovations for African farms, in the face of droughts.