AGRA President Receives Prestigious Plant Breeders Award for Her Dedication to Africa’s Agri-food Transformation
OCTOBER 26, 2021: Kigali, Rwanda – AGRA President H.E. Dr. Agnes Kalibata has today been conferred with the Distinguished Award for Meritorious Service by the African Plant Breeders Association (APBA) at the second Plant Breeders Conference (#APBACONF2021), currently taking place in Kigali, Rwanda. The award recognizes Dr. Kalibata’s contribution to the transformation of Africa’s agricultural and food systems.
In his citation, APBA President H.E. Prof. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah recounted Dr. Kalibata’s commitment to fighting hunger and poverty in Africa, starting with her college days as a bachelor’s degree student in entomology and biochemistry, to her time as Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture, and now as AGRA President.
“In the six years you were Minister of Agriculture, Rwanda’s poverty dropped more than 20%. You grew the agricultural sector annual budget from US$10 million to US$150 million. Rwanda also became the first country to sign a compact under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme. You are heralded as one of the most successful Agriculture Ministers in sub-Saharan Africa,” read Prof. Danquah’s citation, in part.
Dr. Kalibata served as Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources from 2008 to 2014, implementing a science-based approach to agriculture that greatly increased efficiency and productivity, and transformed Rwanda into a largely food-secure nation.
Afterwards, she briefly served as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Advancement at the University of Rwanda before joining AGRA as its President in September 2014. At AGRA, she leads a team of more than 200 agricultural specialists across 11 priority countries to increase the access by farmers to high-quality farm inputs, financial support and markets. This is achieved through, among other ways strengthening agricultural policy development by governments and the establishment of beneficial partnerships with the private sector.
The APBA recognition is the latest for Dr. Kalibata, who has been previously feted with the Yara Prize, (2012), honorary doctorates from the Universities of Liège (2018) and McGill University in (2019), and the Public Welfare Medal by the National Academy of Sciences (2019), amongst many others.
In 2019, she was appointed by the UN Secretary-General as Special Envoy to the 2021 Food Systems Summit, which took place in New York, USA, last September. In this role, she worked with the United Nations system and key partners to provide leadership, guidance, and strategic direction towards the Summit.
AGRA is a farmer-centered, African-led, partnerships-driven institution that is working to transforming smallholder farming from a solitary struggle to survive to a business that thrives. In collaboration with its partners—including African governments, researchers, development partners, the private sector and civil society— AGRA’s work primarily focuses on smallholder farmers – men and women who typically cultivate staple crops on two hectares or less. AGRA is now recognized across the continent as a strong voice for African rural development, a prosperous agricultural economy, and for supporting thousands of small African businesses and millions of African families to improve agriculture as a way to ensure food security and improve their livelihoods.
The African Plant Breeders Association is an initiative of experienced agricultural scientists, students and professionals in Africa from higher education institutions, research organizations and private companies who see the need to change the narrative of crop improvement and the seed sector in Africa. It is a forum dedicated to promoting scientific plant breeding and related research, developing human capacities, identifying solutions to food and nutrition insecurity in Africa and providing tangible solutions to governments, seed companies, non-governmental organizations and farmers. The APBA was inaugurated at the University of Ghana in October 2019. The inaugural conference was a resounding success. Over 400 scientists from 30 countries converged in Accra, Ghana to share ideas and develop a plan of action. At the business meeting held to approve the constitution and elect officers, it was resolved that the APBA platform would drive an agenda for innovation in plant breeding on the continent to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger and the aspirations of the African Union, “the Africa We Want” by 2063 as documented in the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).More information: https://africanplantbreeders.ug.edu.gh; Alma-Lisa Lartey firstname.lastname@example.org