African heroes, superpowers of agriculture

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By Strive Masiyiwa
For most people, the notion of a hero conjures up images of brave individuals risking their lives for others, or “superheroes” from comic books or films, armed with supernatural powers.
But what Africa needs, each and every day, are heroes of a different sort – “action heroes” with ideas and vision, ready to respond to challenges that could determine the fate of a continent with a land mass larger than the United States, Western Europe, China and India combined. This is a lot of land, with a lot of potential. Africa’s challenges are well known: A devastating drought is destroying crops in Eastern and Southern Africa. Plummeting oil prices are undermining economic growth in exporting countries, notably Nigeria.
Chronic hunger still plagues one third of our people, with deep poverty trapping almost half the families on the continent in dire hardship. There’s an urgent need for employment prospects for the 200 million between the ages of 15 and 24 who make Africa the world’s most youthful continent. Millions of African farmers still lack access to improved crop varieties that boost yields. They need mineral and organic fertilizers that revive soil. They need access to credit to purchase farm inputs. They need better information about market opportunities to justify their investments. While we can get cell phone signals to Maasai livestock herders, most African farmers still struggle to find a bag of quality seeds or a small amount of fertilizer! Where are the African action heroes who can tackle these continental challenges?
In a new effort to find them, in April 2016, several organizations joined forces in Accra, Ghana to launch the new $100,000 Africa Food Prize (formerly the Yara Prize). This new Africa-based award will recognize an outstanding individual or institution which is leading efforts to change the reality of farming in Africa – from a struggle to survive, to a business that thrives! We’re looking for bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated with excellence throughout the continent. We know there are African action heroes in our midst, doing extraordinary things in the extraordinary world of agriculture, which I believe holds the key to Africa´s future.
Masiyiwa is the Board Chair, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Executive Chairman and Founder of Econet Wireless
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Posted by on November 16, 2016. Filed under Policy, Profile. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.