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    Monday, July 8, 2024

    Afreximbank-FARA Research, Innovation and Competence in Agriculture Africa Awards Winners Announced at AAM2024 and ACTIF2024

    The AFRICA Awards selection process is overseen by an independent committee of globally renowned experts.

    The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) are delighted to announce the recipients of the inaugural Afreximbank-FARA Research, Innovation, and Competence in Agriculture (AFRICA) Awards.

    These esteemed awards recognize individuals, collectives, or well-established organizations that have made exceptional contributions to the enhancement of food and nutritional security, income generation, resilience, and natural resource management in Africa. These contributions are achieved through research, innovation, agripreneurship, and policy advocacy in the food and agriculture sector.

    During the 2024 Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM2024) and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF) held in Nassau, Bahamas, the award recipients were formally presented with their accolades.

    The AFRICA Awards encompass three categories: the Africa Research Excellence Award, the Innovation-based Entrepreneurship Award, and the Impactful and Evidence-based Policies Award.

    The AFRICA Awards selection process is overseen by an independent committee of globally renowned experts.

    Following a rigorous and competitive selection process, FARA and Afreximbank are delighted to present the two esteemed laureates of the 2024 AFRICA Awards. They are::

    Umezuruike Linus Opara is the recipient of the Africa Research Excellence Award in recognition of his contribution to developing and validating a novel integrated value-chain approach to post-harvest research and innovation, one crop at a time.  His work is acclaimed for reducing post-harvest losses, enhancing value addition, and connecting production to local, regional, and international African markets. Additionally, Professor Opara is recognised for his contributions to building Africa’s capacity for research and innovation in post-harvest science and technology through cutting-edge research, new knowledge creation, and mentoring young, outstanding researchers. He is a distinguished Professor and holder of the South African Research Chair in Postharvest Technology, Faculty of AgriSciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa.   Professor Opara holds a Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Engineering degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and a PhD from Massey University, New Zealand. Professor Opara has published extensively, is a highly cited researcher, and has received several other prestigious awards.

    Professor Richard Mkandawire is the recipient of the Impactful and Evidence-based Policies Award for his foundational role in conceptualising CAADP and catalysing its domestication in African countries. CAADP is credited with elevating the attention and increasing the investments African countries are devoting to agriculture.

    Professor Mkandawire has consistently and vigorously advocated for policy processes that are inclusive and supported by evidence.  He has catalysed very productive partnerships among policy analysts, policymakers, the private sector, knowledge institutions and other actors in the food and agriculture system. These partnerships have been instrumental in improving the policy environment needed to drive Africa’s agricultural transformation. Professor Mkandawire holds a PhD in development studies and an MSc in agricultural extension from the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom. He also holds an MA in Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri, USA. He has published extensively on agriculture development policy and related areas and has been honoured with several other notable awards. He is the Africa Director, Alliance for African Partnership; Chair, Malawi National Planning Commission and formerly the Head of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) at NEPAD.

    Commenting during the awards, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of Board of Directors, Afreximbank said: “Africa’s vulnerability to climate shocks exacerbate its food insecurity concerns and heighten the urgency of structural transformation of its agricultural sector. It needs to boost efficiency and productivity, modernise its agriculture, and reclaim its rightful position as a net exporter of agricultural products I applaud the winners of the Inaugural AFRICA Awards for the demonstrable and innovative impact they are delivering for agriculture.”

    Dr Aggrey Agumya, Executive Director, FARA noted: “As leading African institutions, Afreximbank and FARA are proud to launch these eagerly awaited, innovation-driven awards that honour illustrious Africans who have been in the trenches shaping the future of the continent's food and agriculture systems. The awards recognise outstanding contributions in research, innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, and policy, aligning with the goals of the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.”

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