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Ikegwuonu Makes Nigeria Proud, Bags Yara Award for Agric Radio

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Bankole Orija

Nigeria’s Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, founder and CEO, Smallholders Foundation in Nigeria has been recognized for his entrepreneurial work of using radio as transmitter of sustainable agricultural development and environmental conservation beneficial to rural poor small farmers in the Imo State.

He is to be awarded the Yara Prize, which this year has a specific focus on young women and men who are making a particular effort within agriculture paying particular attention to innovation and entrepreneurship.

Ikegwuonu along with Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) also honoured for advocating for impact will receive their awards at Yara Prize ceremony in Maputo, Mozambique, on September 4 in connection with the African Green Revolution Forum 2013.

The Yara Prize Committee selected the two prominent African laureates for their works for African farmers and for the continent’s green revolution.

The award recognizes their effective entrepreneurial work which has spread knowledge that has inspired smallholder farmers and youth to improve their lives, and their policy dialogue and advocacy which has enabled change in the African agricultural sector.

Both laureates have, through personal commitment and special efforts, translated ideas on the development of African agriculture into impactful results in their respective areas of work.

They are both examples of the can-do spirit and drive that is playing a vital role in transforming agriculture in Africa.

“Yara creates impact by addressing global challenges. By awarding the Yara Prize, we salute the champions of sustainable agricultural development. I wish to extend my personal congratulations to the laureates,” Jørgen Ole Haslestad, president and CEO of Yara and chairman of the Yara Prize Committee, said.

Ikegwuonu and the Smallholders Foundation develop and broadcast 10 hours of educational radio programs daily to 250,000 listeners.

The radio programmes are held in the local Igbo language. Since 2007, 65 percent of his radio programme listeners have increased their agricultural yield by 50 percent and their household income by 45 percent.

Ikegwuonu has a goal of reaching 3.5 million farmers in almost 5000 villages in his own region. Since 2008, 4,500 students have been trained and 10 school gardens of Nigeria have been established.

Through the Future Farmers Program, Ikegwuonu imparts sustainable agricultural, environmental management, entrepreneurship and financial management skills to young people through the establishment of the School and Community Gardens in secondary schools and rural communities across Nigeria.

Sibanda is awarded the prize for her many years of work generating knowledge and facilitating dialogue to develop informed, research-based development through policy and advocacy across Africa as CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), where she has served since 2004.

FANRPAN is perceived to be one of the most influential policy networks across the African region.

Its focus areas include policy research and advocacy work on food policy, agricultural productivity, natural resources and environment, and the impact of HIV/AIDS on farmers’ livelihoods.

Sibanda has played a global leadership role in increasing the visibility and importance of agriculture as a key development driver.

In 2009, Dr. Sibanda led the global “No-Agriculture, No-Deal” campaign and mobilized African civil society organizations to push for the inclusion of agriculture in the UNFCCC climate change negotiations.

Sibanda has built the advocacy capacity of FANRPAN through her innovative use of strategic outreach and communication activities, which help leverage and amplify the work done by the organization and its partners at the ground level. Through this multi-pronged approach Sibanda has effectively built recognition for FANRPAN as one of the most recognized and trusted voices on African agriculture and food security, including a strong focus on women farmers.

FANRPAN extended its mandate to become Africa-wide in 2012, and has identified youth as an important stakeholder group to be further nurtured and included in agricultural policy processes, launching the FANRPAN Youth in Agriculture Award in 2012.

The Yara Prize for an African Green Revolution seeks to contribute to the transformation of African agriculture and food availability, within a sustainable context, thereby helping to reduce hunger and poverty.

The Yara Prize is based on nominations of candidates who are carefully evaluated by the Yara Prize Committee.

The Yara Prize consists of $60,000, which will be split between the laureates, a crystal trophy and a diploma.

The Yara Prize was handed out in Oslo from 2005 to 2009. In 2012, it moved to Africa where it was handed out as part of African Green Revolution Forum 2012 in Arusha, Tanzania.

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