DAR ES SALAAM: FORMER President and Chairperson of the Africa Food Prize Dr Jakaya Kikwete on Thursday declared Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) winner of the 2023 prestigious AFP award.
The institution has been recognized for its exceptional leadership in the development of numerous bean varieties that improve farm productivity and profitability thereby increasing consumer demand.
By scooping the highly celebrated award which aims to accelerate sustainable, inclusive and resilient food systems within Africa and globally, PABRA will be walking away with the 100,000 US dollars’ prize (equivalent to over 200m/-) handed over to him by President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
The prize celebrates Africans who are taking control of Africa’s agriculture agenda. It puts a spotlight on bold initiatives and technical innovations that can be replicated across the continent to create a new era of food security and economic opportunity for all Africans.
Dr Kikwete made the announcement during the ongoing Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 which has gathered at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre (JNICC) in Dar es Salaam.
“PABRA has demonstrated unwavering dedication and commitment to improving nutrition and food security across the African continent by harnessing the potential of beans, a vital source of plant-based proteins and micronutrients including iron and zinc along with other essential nutrients,” he noted.
The AFP Chairperson revealed that the institution’s tireless efforts in breeding new bean varieties and making them accessible to farmers across Africa was also another plus that led them to victory. Their research and development efforts have generated multiple positive impacts on the lives of countless individuals, particularly in communities facing food insecurity and malnutrition.
He further noted that PABRA members have released over 650 improved bean varieties of diverse favorable characteristics.
“These varieties are grown by over 37 million smallholder farmers in Africa and consumed by more than 300 million people in Africa significantly improving nutrition, health, and food security. As a crop typically managed by women, PABRA beans enable more families to eat better and earn incomes,” said Dr Kikwete.
He said annually the Africa Food Prize initiative has been calling for the nomination of outstanding individuals or institutions that are leading the effort to change the reality of farming in Africa.
“This year of 2023, the Africa Food Prize recognizes that sustainable production can improve the entire food ecosystem. We acknowledge the importance of the “bean” in ensuring healthy diets across the continent.
In this regard, it is my singular honour to announce to you this year’s winner, that is no other than the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA). This winner was selected from a field of 496 nominees from 47countries,” he said.
All nominations are reviewed using the Africa Food Prize criteria that assesses a program’s contribution to poverty reduction and nutrition security as well as the improvement of livelihoods through employment and job creation. The selection process also evaluates the potential of program scalability, replication and sustainability.
The former President praised PABRA for its outstanding contribution to farm productivity, resilience and competitiveness on the African continent.
According to him, PABRA’s dedication to bean research and development and their remarkable impact on overcoming malnutrition through the development and improved bean varieties and complementary technologies are commendable. Their work aligns perfectly with the goals of the Africa Food Prize, expressing delight to announce them as the 2023 laureates.
In accepting the award, the Global Bean Program Leader at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT and PABRA Director Mr Jean Claude Rubyogo, expressed gratitude and dedication to the cause, saying; “This award is a testament to the hard work and commitment of the entire PABRA team, its members, including all the National Research institutes and their governments, implementing partners, funders and the smallholder farmers we serve.”
“Winning the 2023 Africa Food Prize is a significant and historic moment for PABRA which comes after celebrating 25 years of bean research and development last year and launching the bean movement – promoting beans as a superfood. PABRA empowers women throughout the bean value chain since they are the majority stakeholders in farming and trading and see this recognition as a win for women in agriculture and sustainable food systems,” noted 2023 AFP laureate.
For her part a member of the AFP committee, Dr Eleni Madhin observed that the prize signaled a recognition of excellence in creating sustainable food systems globally, encouraging the winner to think of the legacy beyond the award as it comes as unique but with greater responsibilities.