By Murimi Gitari, September 8, 2023, The Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) has been honored with the prestigious Africa Food Prize for 2023, recognizing their exceptional leadership in the development of numerous bean varieties that improve farm productivity and profitability, and meet increasing consumer demand. The announcement was made by Africa Food Prize Chairperson, former Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete during the AGRF2023 held in Tanzania.
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. PABRA was recognized for their tireless efforts in breeding new varieties and making them accessible to farmers across Africa. Their research and development efforts have generated a multiple positive impact on the lives of countless individuals, particularly in communities facing food insecurity and malnutrition.
To-date, 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 cash income.
Every year, the Africa Food Prize initiative calls for nomination of outstanding individuals or institutions that are leading the effort to change the reality of farming in Africa.
H.E Jakaya Kikwete, praised PABRA for its outstanding contribution to farm productivity, resilience and competitiveness on the African continent. He stated, “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, and I am delighted to announce them as the 2023 laureates.”
The US $100,000 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.
In accepting the award, Mr. Jean Claude Rubyogo, Global Bean Program Leader at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT and PABRA Director expressed his 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.”
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 improvement of livelihoods through employment and job creation. The selection process also evaluates the potential of program scalability, replication and sustainability.
Mr. Rubyogo added that 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 super food. 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.