By Murimi Gitari, November 10 2021
Dr. Agnes Kalibata, the President of The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has been conferred with the Distinguished Award for Meritorious Service by the African Plant Breeders Association (APBA) at the second Plant Breeders Conference that is underway in Kigali, Rwanda.
The award recognizes Dr. Kalibata’s contribution to the transformation of Africa’s agricultural sector and food systems.
In his citation, APBA President Prof. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah recounted Dr. 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 Prof. Danquah’s citation, in part.
Dr. 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.
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.
The APBA recognition is the latest for Dr. 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.
The African Plant Breeders Association is an initiative of experienced agricultural scientists, students and professionals in Africa from higher education institutions, research organizations and private companies who see the need to change the narrative of crop improvement and the seed sector in Africa.