JB in the thick of things in USA
JB in the thick of things in USA

Malawi’s former President, Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda received much praise and honour from His Excellency Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, newly-appointed President of the African Development Bank (ADB) Group, for “exceptional leadership skills”.

Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda is in Des Moines, Iowa, in the United States, where she is Guest of Honour at the 2016 Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, October 12 to 14, 2016.

His Excellency Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who was Keynote Speaker at Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium Luncheon on Thursday, heaped praise on Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda for what he described as her “exceptional leadership” during her tenure as Head of State when she emphasized on the introduction of innovative agricultural policy interventions.

Said the ADB President: “I wish to specially recognize the presence of President Banda at this important gathering. When she served as Head of State, she demonstrated genuine desire to improve the quality of life of Malawians and ensure national prosperity through workable policies, especially in agriculture. She is an embodiment of progress and prosperity; a development agent.”

His Excellency Dr. Akinwumi Adesina is Nigeria’s former agriculture minister.

The highlight of the symposium was the presentation of the 2016 World Food Prize whose ceremony took place on Thursday, October 13, 2016 at Iowa’s State Capitol in Des Moines.

The World Food Prize is given to individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

The 2016 World Food Prize laureates were Dr. Maria Andrade, Cape Verde, International Potato Center, Dr. Robert Mwanga, Uganda, International Potato Center, Dr. Jan Low, United States, International Potato Center, Dr. Howarth Bouis, United States, HarvestPlus.
These laureates implemented bio-fortification as an agricultural approach to increasing vitamins and minerals in staple crops through conventional breeding methods.

Apart from co-presenting this year’s prize to the four laureates with the President of Mauritius, Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda also participated in a high-level African Agricultural Capacity Development panel discussion where panelists tackled agricultural human and institutional capacity building challenges and possible solutions.

Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda highlighted the limited land for cultivation, climate change, inadequate agricultural extension services, among others as some of the major challenges that African farmers face, which result in perpetual food insecurity and poverty.

She suggested that genuine political will would go a long way in addressing the challenges that farmers currently face, particularly when they want to access credit for farm inputs, improved seed and pesticides, among others.

She said: “The African Union must encourage networking and sharing of agriculture best practices among member states. AU must continue to empower rural women farmers through the provision of modern farming equipment. At country level, governments must implement the ‘Malabo Declaration’ and create job opportunities for 30 percent of the youth in agriculture.”

She said that it is also important that governments and research institutions must engage the farmers in research and innovation initiatives so that research initiatives are “demand-driven” and that no research results must “end up on shelves”.