Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s agriculture minister, wins Forbes African Person of the Year award for his reforms in the agricultural sector
| By Olu Ojewale | Dec. 16, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
IT WAS his day of glory. On Tuesday, December 3, Akinwumi Adesina, agriculture minister, was named the Forbes African Person of the Year. In winning the prestigious award, Adesina had to pip moguls such as Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and chairman, Dangote Group, and Jim Ovia, former chief executive officer of Zenith Bank, from Nigeria, as well as Patrice Motsepe, a South African and Strive Masiyiwa, a Zimbabwean. According to the organiser of the yearly award, the Nigerian agriculture minister is being recognised for his reforms to the country’s farming sector. “He is a man on a mission to help Africa feed itself,” Chris Bishop, editor, Forbes Africa, said.
The minister has been recognised and nominated for his bold reforms in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, which have empowered more than six million farmers across the country. Through the programmes, Adesina has been able to create wealth and moved a lot of Nigerians away from poverty. Within two years of his taking office, Adesina turned agriculture away from being a development programme into a business activity generating wealth for millions of farmers. Aliyu Tanko, a BBC Hausa reporter, said Adesina had introduced more transparency into the supply and distribution of fertiliser, which had previously been marred by massive corruption. The minister has also encouraged Nigerians to grow more food crops, especially cassava. In January, Adesina announced a scheme to hand out 10 million mobile phones to farmers to ‘drive an agriculture revolution’ so they can find out the latest market information. The phones are now being used to get vouchers for seeds and fertiliser.
Through the agricultural reform programmes, a lot of Nigerians are now going into agriculture, which had hitherto been neglected in favour of oil. “My goal is to make as many millionaires, maybe even billionaires, from agriculture as possible,” Adesina said in his acceptance speech.
The minister said he was honoured and humbled by the award, which he has dedicated to African farmers for resilient in sustaining wealth creation for the continent. “With dwindling oil fortunes, and the end of the telecoms boom, the next big investment frontier is unlocking Africa’s vast agricultural potentials to feed the continent and the world. Africa, with our huge potentials, cannot be a museum of poverty,” he said.