FSG Faculty Meets with Akin Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, 2017 World Food Prize Laureate

“Agriculture is cool, agriculture is sexy.” —Dr. Adesina

AFRE meeting with AkinPhoto, left to right: Kwame Yeboah, Mywish Maredia, Thomas Jayne, Véronique Thériault, Eric Crawford, Akin Adesina, Titus Awokuse, Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, and Nicole Mason

Akin Adesina’s messages are powerful and straightforward: “Agriculture is cool, agriculture is sexy.” As President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), he affirms that “farmers are business people,” encouraging the move from subsistence farming to a business approach. Dr. Adesina’s vision for the AfDB is supported by his own personal experience of poverty, and a deep understanding of economic development. During his visit at MSU, where he was recognized with an honorary doctorate degree, Dr. Adesina discussed several initiatives of the Bank, including the African Development Institute to undertake applied research to guide governments and regional initiatives. This is an area where the AFRE Food Security Group (FSG) has been working for decades.

On May 3, 2018, several FSG faculty members had the great honor to meet with Dr. Adesina. Eric Crawford, FSG Co-Director, with Titus Awokuse, AFRE Department Chairperson, Mywish Maredia, FSP Director, and Thomas Jayne, Alliance for African Partnership Co-Director, introduced the Group and the following Assistant Professors: Saweda Liverpool-Tasie who presented the Nigerian Visiting Scholars program; Nicole Mason who talked about our well-established collaborations with the Inbada Agriculture Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) in Zambia, as well as about a new Partnership for Enabling Market Environments for Fertilizer in Africa (PEMEFA); and Véronique Thériault who explained our long-time partnership with the Institut d’Économie Rurale (IER) in Mali.

DSC0042FSGFACAdesinaLRPhoto, left to right: Titus Awokuse, Thomas Jayne, Akin Adesina, Akin Adesina's staff, Kwame Yeboah, Mywish Maredia, Eric Crawford, Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, Nicole Mason and Véronique Thériault

Kwame Yeboah presented his latest findings on youth and employment, in particular his newly released report funded by the Chicago Council for Global Development “Youth for Growth, Transforming Economies through Agriculture.” This topic is one of the priorities for the African Development Bank, as Dr. Adesina explained: “We shouldn't strive to empower youth, but to invest in them instead." Talking to youth at MSU, his pitch was impassioned: “Become an ‘agropreneur’ –not a farmer!”

Dr. Adesina commented very positively on our capacity building initiatives and stressed again the importance of youth for the future of Africa. He also commented that it is essential to include women in agribusiness and to give them access to land and financing.

“Dr. Adesina is a visionary and transformative leader who has led impactful change that has helped to improve African agriculture and the overall well-being of many people on the continent,” Awokuse said. “To have him come to campus and speak directly to us, our faculty, and our students was a great learning opportunity and honor.”

This MSU visit was also a great opportunity to continue affirming our commitment and dedication to building capacities within MSU and across departments, units and programs. Dr. Adesina was nominated to receive an honorary degree jointly by the Alliance for African Partnership/International Studies and Programs, and by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resource’s Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics.

“Akin is clearly an accomplished academic, a policymaker, and thought leader. His contributions to Africa have had major real-world impacts, and he exemplifies MSU’s land grant and global grant values,” said Thom Jayne, University Foundation Professor in AFRE and notable MSU Africanist. “We are grateful that he accepted our invitation to come to MSU a day early to engage with faculty and students, to inform us about the African Development Bank’s activities, and to explore potential collaboration.”

We’re honored and grateful for Dr Adesina’s inspiring visit.

More about Dr Adesina’s visit at MSU.


Photo: Eric Crawford, FSG Co-Director, with Dr. Akin Adesina. “It was a great pleasure to talk with Dr. Adesina again after meeting him many years ago while he was with the Rockefeller Foundation.”

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