AGRA president Kalibata receives prestigious plant breeders award for her dedication to Africa’s agri-food transformation

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) president Dr. Agnes Kalibata was on Tuesday conferred with the Distinguished Award for Meritorious Service by the African Plant Breeders Association (APBA) at the second Plant Breeders Conference (#APBACONF2021) in Kigali, Rwanda.

The award recognizes Kalibata’s contribution to the transformation of Africa’s agricultural and food systems.

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.

Dr Agnes Kalibata: winner

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.

In his citation, APBA President Professor Eric Yirenkyi Danquah recounted 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 Danquah’s citation, in part.

The APBA recognition is the latest for 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.

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