Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has been named Forbes African Person of the Year for his remarkable reforms in Nigeria’s agriculture sector.
Akinwunmi beat Aliko Dangote, President of Dangote Group, Jim Ovia, Chairman of the Zenith Bank Group, Strive Masiyiwa, founder of Global Telecoms group and South African mining magnate, Patrice Motsepe.
About six million farmers across Nigeria have been empowered to embrace modern day agriculture by Adesina’s initiatives in agriculture.
He was described as a passionate defender of African farmers, relentless in unlocking opportunities for farmers and changing Africa’s narrative on agriculture to wealth creation, away from poverty reduction.
Adesina said he was happy to be honoured by Forbes. “I am truly honoured and humbled by this prestigious award, which I dedicate to Africa’s farmers and the new cadre of young business entrepreneurs who have discovered the hidden gem for sustainable wealth creation on our continent – Agriculture,” he said.
Adesina’s impact in the agriculture sector within two years in office turned agriculture away from being a development program into a business activity generating wealth for millions of farmers.
The minister had stressed that Africa, with its huge potential, could not be ‘a museum of poverty.’
“My passion is using agricultural business and finance innovations to turn Nigerian and African farmers and agribusinesses into millionaires and billionaires. Nigeria must become a global powerhouse in agriculture,” he stated.
His Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) ended four decades of corruption in the fertilizer sector, eliminating the middlemen and scaling up food production by nine million metric tonnes in the first year -almost half of the 2015 production target.
In recognition of Nigeria’s reforms and progress, global and domestic investors have signed over $4 billion of executed letters of investments to boost Nigeria’s agriculture.
The World Bank, African Development Bank and other global development finance institutions have put up over USD 2 billion in support of his bold initiatives.
“Adesina has totally revolutionized agriculture into a business, and banks and private investors are all moving to the agriculture sector. He has made agriculture very exciting, turning it into Nigeria’s new oil” said Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings.
Often referred to as ‘Africa’s leading development entrepreneur’, he was appointed by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as one of the 17 global leaders, along with Bill Gates, to help the world to achieve the Millennium Goals.
Adesina said he dreams of a future where Africa’s vast savannas are revived with crops, where large commercial and smallholder farmers co-exist and both prosper. Where rail, road and port systems are improved.