Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina
|Born||1960. 2. 6.|
|Awarded for||Spearheading Good Governance of Africa through Agricultural Innovation and Eradication of Poverty|
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, a globally renowned development economist, has been a leader in agricultural innovation in Africa for over 30 years, bringing significant improvement to Africa’s food security, and the establishment of strategic and far reaching agricultural policies to transform agriculture into a business, and to create wealth for millions of poor farmers.
Currently, he serves as the President of the African Development Bank where he directs inclusive growth for Africa’s economies. Also, through his transparency and accountability in the delivery of impactful programs, he drives a bold vision of Good Governance of Africa, which boosts Africa’s capacity to feed itself and transform its rural economies for generating wealth for millions of rural and poor African farmers.
Awarded the World Food Prize in 2017 for decades of innovative work on global agriculture and support for the poor and marginalized, Dr. Adesina continues to devote his passion and energy to ending global hunger, noting: “I will not rest until we end global hunger”. Forbes Africa Magazine of October 2018 dubbed Dr. Adesina as “Mr. Development” for his innovative approaches and inspiring leadership to help lift millions out of poverty. As a true mark of dedication to his cause, Dr. Adesina devoted his entire $250,000 World Food Prize to the establishment of the World Hunger Fighters’ Foundation, with the goal of helping end global hunger.
- February 6, 1960 – Born in Ibadan, Nigeria
- Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Economics (First Class Honors) from University of Ife, Nigeria (Now Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria).
- Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University, USA
- Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University, USA
- Honorary Doctor in Humane Letters from Franklin and Marshall College, USA
- Honorary Doctor of Agriculture from Purdue University, USA
- Honorary Doctor of Agriculture from Michigan State University, USA
- Honorary Doctor of Science from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
- Honorary Doctorate from Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria
- Honorary Doctor of Science from Adekunle Ajasin University, Akugba, Nigeria
- Honorary Doctor of Letters from Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria
- Honorary Doctor of Management, Nigerian Defense Academy, Kaduna, Nigeria
- 1988 Senior Agricultural Scientist at the Rockefeller Foundation, New York, USA
- 1990 ~ 1995 Principal Economist and Coordinator of the West Africa Rice Economics Task Force at the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA).
- 1999 ~ 2003 Representative for Southern Africa at the Rockefeller Foundation, New York, USA
- 2003 ~ 2008 Associate Director for Food Security at the Rockefeller Foundation, New York, USA
- 2008 ~ 2011 Vice President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Nairobi, Kenya
- 2008 ~ 2010 President of the African Association of Agricultural Economists
- 2011 ~ 2015 Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria
- 2015 ~ Present President of the African Development Bank Group
- 2007 YARA Prize for the African Green Revolution (YARA International), Oslo, Norway
- 2010 Borlaug CAST Communication Award (CAST), USA.
- 2015 Extraordinary Achievement Award (Silverbird Television)
- 2016 First Laureate of the FARA Africa Leadership Prize
- 2017 Gene White Lifetime Achievement Award (Global Nutrition Foundation), Washington DC, USA
- 2017 World Food Prize (World Food Prize Foundation, USA).
- 2010 Appointed by the United Nations Secretary General as one of the 17 global leaders to spearhead the Millennium Development Goals
- 2013 “African Person of the Year” (Forbes Africa)
- 2016 ~ Present Board Member of the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa
- 2018 Ranked the 9th Most Influential African by the Jeune Afrique Magazine
Dr. Adesina proclaims: “Agriculture is a sector that will help diversify economies, create jobs, and eradicate food insecurity in African countries, as well as achieving food security for the world.” Therefore, he has been at the forefront of establishing major agricultural policies to eradicate poverty in Africa.
Dr. Adesina was born into a family of smallholder farmers. Seeing the reality of rural poverty in his childhood, he learned the crucial link between agriculture and livelihoods, and attained a vision of unlocking the potential of Africa to feed itself and contribute to feeding the world.
In 1988 after acquiring his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, in the United States of America, he returned to Africa and worked for a decade in three of the global agricultural research centers – the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics, the West Africa Rice Development Association, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture spearheading policy work on getting agricultural technologies to farmers.
Dr. Adesina joined the Rockefeller Foundation Program in the Agricultural Sciences, where he worked for a decade, developing innovative approaches for reaching poor farmers in the remotest areas of Africa with improved agricultural technologies. He helped to design a model called “The Agro-Dealers Network,” which consist of a massive rural network of small village shops that taught modern agricultural techniques and sold seed varieties and fertilizers to farmers. With the method, distances traveled by farmers to find modern farm inputs declined drastically. He passionately cooperated with international and local NGOs to reach millions of farmers, yielding significant increases in food production across the continent.
In 2015, based on his belief that, “The greatest infrastructure to build isn’t a road or a rail or a port, but grey matter infrastructure,” he established an initiative called “African Leaders for Nutrition” with the help of other world leaders such as Bill Gates; Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa; the late Kofi A. Annan; and the former President of Ghana, John Kuffor. Since the establishment of the initiative, Dr. Adesina has been at the forefront of eradicating malnutrition, stunting and poverty in Africa through agriculture.
He pioneered major transformations in the agricultural field, including expanding food production by introducing high yielding technologies, designing and implementing policies to support farmers’ access to technologies at scale, increasing the availability of credit for millions of smallholder farmers, attracting private investments for the agricultural sector, rooting out corrupt elements in the fertilizer industry, and assisting in the establishment of major agricultural policies for Africa’s green revolution.
Based upon his beliefs, he has made “using agriculture to create wealth” his core value. He has also been in the forefront of spearheading good governance for Africa and ensuring inclusive growth for Africa’s economy.
During his term as an Associate Director for Food Security at the Rockefeller Foundation in 2006, he worked ardently to organize the Africa Fertilizer Summit, because he recognized that Africa desperately needed to spark a revolution in agricultural techniques using fertilizer to increase food production of smallholder farmers. The summit was one of the largest high-level meetings in Africa’s history to focus on solving Africa’s food issues. Dr. Adesina succeeded in raising excitement and political will among the leaders at the summit and called for the adoption of the “Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer for the African Green Revolution,” in which all leaders in attendance stated their commitment to “eradicate hunger in Africa by 2030.”
After the Summit and since 2006 as a Vice President for Policy and Partnerships at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (the late Kofi Annan served as the Chairman), he developed an innovative financing system which ensured banks’ capacity to lend credit to smallholder farmers who had no other ways to get out of the cycle of poverty. With cooperation from banks from other countries, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the system leveraged $100 million in loans and contributed in bringing agricultural innovation to smallholder farmers. The Bank of Uganda provided loans to farmers growing bananas, using $500,000 from Rockefeller Foundation’s Program-Related Investment portfolio; and Kenya’s Equity Bank, which is the largest bank in Kenya, launched a “risk sharing facility” that leveraged $50 million in financing for tens of thousands of smallholder farmers. In Nigeria, he worked with the Central Bank of Nigeria (and its then Governor, Sanusi Lamido, now Emir Sanusi II of Kano) to establish a $300 million risk sharing facility to de-risk lending by commercial banks to agriculture, and successfully leveraged $3 billion in lending commitments. This innovative system expanded to other countries and has greatly contributed to terminating the cycle of poverty of smallholder farmers.
As a result of his achievements, he was appointed as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2011. During his term, he boosted food production by an additional 21 million metric tons over four years and attracted $5.6 billion in private-sector investments. Moreover, he led an agricultural revolution by introducing the “E-Wallet System” which provided agricultural inputs and subsidized electronic vouchers, which allowed farmers to use them in lieu of cash to purchase fertilizer and seed varieties directly from agro-dealers. The E-Wallet System also ended 40 years of corruption in the government-controlled fertilizer distribution system. As farmers used modern seed varieties in rice, maize and wheat production, the number of seed companies increased from 5 to 80 within just four years; farmer rice yields doubled to five to six tons of rice per hectare with improved seed varieties, in the process, transforming the lives of 14.5 million farmers and their families.
Nigeria’s E-Wallet System drew attention as a critically innovative platform to end decades of corruption in the fertilizer supply chain and sparked a Borlaugian “Take It to the Farmer” revolution. Subsequently, global financial institutions such as the World Bank and other multilateral and bilateral development finance institutions began supporting the scaling up of the program into other African countries and beyond.
Since 2015, as President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Adesina has set a number of strategic goals and spearheaded the growth of Africa with a “High 5 Strategy” which includes: light up and power Africa, feed Africa, industrialize Africa, integrate Africa, and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa. His leadership is moving Africa forward with speed on many fronts. Bank estimates indicate that in 2017, 4.4 million people were able to connect to electricity; 8.5 million people received benefits in the agricultural field, and 14 million people were beneficiaries of infrastructural investments in the transportation sector.
Dr. Adesina has provided remarkable leadership for youth across Africa, and he continues to develop the next generation of leaders. His infectious passion has led many of Africa’s youth to go into agriculture as a business, shifting their mindsets to modern value-chain driven agriculture, which he believes will unlock the fullness of wealth for African economies.
Passionately driven to end poverty in Africa, he pursues this mission by building strategic alliances and partnerships across the world, between governments, private sector and civil society, with a determination to make Africa a “place of wealth” and not “a museum for poverty.” He is mobilizing billions of dollars to make Africa a “land of investment” and not a land that needs “aid.”
In addition to efforts to ramp up Africa’s infrastructure, he is driving a bold agenda for the African Development Bank to help deliver universal access to power in Africa within ten years for 645 million Africans who do not have access to electricity. Buoyed by a deep sense of urgency and the realization that Africa will have a population of 840 million young people by 2015, he is accelerating change and economic growth with a goal and plan to create 25 million jobs within ten years, much of which will come from the agricultural field.
In his words “my life is only worth living to the extent to which it helps to lift millions out of poverty into wealth. For three decades that’s been my passion. Development must be done with dignity.”
Awarding of Medal and Plaque to Dr. Akinwumi Adesina
Founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon is presenting the medal to Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.
ⓒ 2019. Sunhak Peace Prize
Committee Chairman Dr. Il Sik Hong is presenting a plaque to Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.
ⓒ 2019. Sunhak Peace Prize
Video of the Awarding
Economic commander of Africa, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina giving his Acceptance Speech during the 2019 Sunhak Peace Prize Award Ceremony.
ⓒ 2019. Sunhak Peace Prize
Video of Acceptance Speech
Good morning everyone!
I am delighted to be here today. It is such a great honor to have been awarded the Sunhak Peace Prize. I would like to heartily congratulate my co-Laureate, Waris Dirie, and commend her for her global fight against female genital mutilation.
This prize is not about me. No one should ever work to win a prize. I serve God and humanity. For my life is only useful to the extent to which it helps to lift millions out of poverty.
But when one's effort is recognized, then one is very humbled: so thank you so much to the Chairman and Committee of the Sunhak Peace Prize Foundation, and the nominators around the world, for this great honour bestowed on me. The Sunhak Peace Prize is a call to do more for our world - and I will.
I wish to commend the founder Dr. Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon for setting up the Sunhak Peace Prize to recognize work to make the world a better place. The ideals that you stand for, a world where we live in peace, with one another, is not only the decent thing to do; it is a moral imperative.
And your launching the Sunhak Peace Prize shows the power of family bonds. I would like to recognize, as I always do, my dear wife of 35 years, Grace. She is not here tonight but I am sure she is watching this live telecast at home. Grace has been my pillar of support, strength and success. Without her I would not be here tonight. I love you and appreciate you more today, than when you agreed to marry a young man who did not have much more to offer other than his love, affection, commitment and dreams. For believing in me and us, thank you!
The human race is one family, regardless of nationality, religion, race or color. We all have the same blood running through our bodies. We are all citizens of the world. When one suffers everyone does!
There is tremendous suffering going on in the world. Over 850 million people are hungry, with over 150 million children malnourished. While progress is being made, we are not winning the war on global hunger. There cannot be peace in a world that is hungry.
Hunger persists in regions and places going through conflicts, wars and fragility. Those who suffer the most are women and children.
When the ego and pride of the mighty clash, the consequences are felt by the weakest among us: children. They do not create wars but the world's children suffer from it the most.
The pictures of walking skeletons breaks our hearts, eyes so hollow, with hearts beatings from skeletal stomachs which seems to say "mama why am I not getting food?". But their mamas are also not getting food.
God made the stomachs to be filled not to go empty. Today the budgets spent on the military far exceeds what we are putting up to improve agriculture and feed ourselves.
The world cannot plow with guns; and beans and rice seeds are needed more than bullets. Seeds give life. Bullets end life.
In the 700s, a Bible prophet by the name of Isaiah urged that the world should turn its swords into plows and spears into pruning forks and that they learn to cease from war.
Wars build nothing. To secure our world we must end the endless desire to look for reasons for conflict. Let's instead find reasons to increase support for millions of the poor to feed our world.
For a peaceful world will be a food secure world.
There must be accountability to the poor. And we must reduce global income inequality. Think about it only 1% of the rich in the world own almost 50% of global wealth. The poor are stuck only to end up eating crumbs, if any at all, that fall from the tables of the rich. We need wealth, yes, but we need wealth for everyone not just a few. The sense of exclusion and lack of equity or fairness often drives conflicts.
But nothing drives poverty more than corruption. Corruption is like a blazing fire, it destroys everything in its path. Children cannot go to school or attend poor schools. Hundreds of millions go hungry every day. People living without insurance, who at the first illness spend their entire livelihoods just to survive, if ever they can. The hope of the future, the youth, waste on our streets. Millions go without health insurance. Those who hoped they would make it in the cities end up in the world's growing urban sprawl and slums, their future drowned.
Yet resources meant for them are lost to the rising tide of corruption. There is a compelling need for public accountability for the people, especially for the poor whose only hope is for governments to help them unlock possibilities for a better future, for them and their children.
I remember my time as Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria when I had to fight corruption. We succeeded in ending 40 years of corruption in the fertilizer and seed sector, using a simple tool: mobile phones, to deliver electronic vouchers directly to farmers. This allowed them to buy seeds and fertilizers themselves from the private sector suppliers. We cut off the middlemen; the rent seekers, who for decades have gotten fat on Government contracts, while the poor were drained. We ended Government direct distribution of seeds and fertilizers.
It was tough, but it worked. Within four years the system reached over 15 million farmers. One of the farmers, a woman, told me, holding up her phone to show me she's received her electronic vouchers: "now we can live with pride". This electronic wallet system for farmers is going global and now, at the African Development Bank, we are helping to expand it across several African countries.
The poor do not need handouts, they need accountable governments. The UN estimates that corruption costs $3 trillion per year globally, in terms of bribes and stolen monies. Just think of what that can do. The World Economic Forum estimates that it'll take $116 billion per year to feed the world and end hunger. It'll take $8.5 billion per year to eliminate malaria. Now, that's only 0.28% of what's lost to corruption globally every year. It'll take $26 billion per year to send all kids in the world to school. The International Atomic Agency estimates that $31 billion per year will provide energy for all in the world. That's just 1% of what's lost annually to corruption globally.
Corruption does not invest in the future, it kills the future.
That's why the African Development Bank is working hard, with governments, to improve transparency, governance and accountability across the continent. We are improving the transparency in the delivery and implementation of our projects. Indeed, last year the global report on "Publish What You Fund" rated the African Development Bank as the 4th most transparent institution in the world.
We are working hard to build a brighter future for the continent. At the African Development Bank we are investing $24 billion under a bold "Feed Africa" initiative to help the continent achieve food security within ten years. We are already reaching millions of farmers with our goal to reach over 35 million farmers.
To light up and power Africa and provide universal access to electricity, the African Development Bank is investing $12 billion with goal of leveraging $45-50 billion, over five years. A lot of progress is being made and in the past five years we've provided electricity to over 25 million people.
Yet, there's still so much to do to make the world a better place for all. That's why this Sunhak Peace Prize is a great inspiration for me. It is a call to do more for those least privileged around the world and especially in Africa.
Nothing is more important than ensuring that we feed the world and eliminate hunger and malnutrition. Hunger is an indictment on the human race. Any economy that claims growth without feeding its people is a failed economy. Nobody has to go hungry, white, black, pink, orange or any colour you can think.
There must be political accountability for hunger around the world. A well fed and healthy population will work harder and be productive. Lower price for food will expand disposable incomes, allowing households to save and invest in the education and health of their children. Healthy populations will live longer raising long term savings pool. And most of all, well fed children will learn well, for an empty stomach dulls the brain. That's why the best infrastructure we should build is "grey matter infrastructure," simply put the "brain infrastructure." And nutritious food is the oil for the brain.
So, let's turn our swords into plows and our spears into pruning forks. Let's turn our guns into seed planters and replace bullets with seeds to grow our food. Let's end the indignity of hunger in our world, for God wants it so.
For even when Jesus was asked by his disciples to teach them how to pray, his first request was "give us this day our daily bread." That means Food First!
That's why I am fully dedicating the whole of the $500,000 cash award of the Sunhak Peace Prize to my Foundation, the World Hunger Fighters Foundation, to carry on the Lord's request to provide "daily bread" for everyone around our world.
Thank you all very much and God bless you all.
For Africa’s Bright Future
It is such a great honor to be awarded the prestigious Sunhak Peace Prize. I am grateful to the Committee members of the Sunhak Peace Prize Foundation and the thousands of nominators around the world for their confidence and recognition. I am humbled that my contributions over the years are being recognized.
My entire life is dedicated to helping others, to creating hope and lifting millions out of poverty into wealth.
Development must be fast tracked in Africa. We must not accept the poverty we see around us as normal. Instead, we must keep looking for ways to help as many people as possible to come out of poverty. We must bring future hope to the present for our people through greater accountability and good governance.
As we create wealth for the poor, especially those in rural areas, they will be food secure, and have improved qualities of life.
This prize will inspire me to do even more towards ending world hunger and giving hope to millions of people, especially the poor. A food secure world, will be a peaceful world.
Thank you once again, for this unexpected and great honor.
Akinwumi A. Adesina
President, African Development Bank Group
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
November 16, 2018