Dr. Emma Naluyima, a smallholder farmer from Uganda, won the African Food Prize for her efforts to educate other farmers on sustainable techniques. Photo by: Sara Jerving / Devex

ACCRA, Ghana — A smallholder farmer and an agricultural entrepreneur were jointly awarded the Africa Food Prize Wednesday at the African Green Revolution Forum in Ghana.

Dr. Emma Naluyima from Uganda and Baba Dioum from Senegal were chosen “for their remarkable achievements in demonstrating and promoting innovative and sustainable growth in Africa’s agriculture through improved resource use and market links,” according to a release from the prize committee. They share a $100,000 prize.

Trained as a veterinarian, Naluyima has a one-acre farm that uses a “closed-loop” approach to agriculture. The farm is divided into quarters, between pig, cattle, fish, and vegetable farming. Naluyima uses their waste products for feed, fertilizer, and pesticide. For example, pig waste is used to fertilize the vegetables, and the maggots from the waste are used to feed the fish and chicken. The cattle waste is used to create biogas to provide energy for her farm. She claims to generate about $100,000 per year from the products and livestock she sells from her farm.

Each year, Naluyima educates about 10,000 people who visit her farm on her techniques. She also founded a primary school with about 300 students that integrate agriculture into the curriculum.

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“What Emma is doing, is incredibly profound,” Strive Masiyiwa, CEO at Econet Group, said during a press conference in Accra on Wednesday, where the winners were announced. “Don’t say you have nothing. Emma only has one acre — and today she has won Africa’s greatest food prize.”

The other winner, Dioum, has been the coordinator general of the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture in West and Central Africa for nearly three decades. He has led key agricultural reforms in Senegal and promoted the cross-border trade of food staples across West and Central Africa. He is also a leading agribusiness operator in the production and export of mangoes to Europe.

“Rather than turn away from the countryside like so many others, [the winners] have embraced farming, using their talents and knowledge to demonstrate its enormous commercial possibilities. In other words, they practice what they preach, and this lends real credibility to their message about the value of technical and policy innovation in agriculture,” said H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, who chairs the prize committee, in a release.

Africa has about 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land. But despite the continent’s agricultural potential, it remains a net importer of food because of challenges including connecting smallholder farmers to markets. It is estimated that a fifth of Africans are undernourished.

The winners were chosen from about 200 nominees, with the committee prioritizing efforts to reduce poverty and hunger, increase employment, and the potential for scalability, among other factors.

The prize is awarded by Yara International, ECONET, Corteva, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Last year, it went to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

Editor’s note: The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa facilitated Devex's travel and logistics for this reporting. Devex maintains full editorial independence and control of the content.

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About the author

  • Sara Jerving

    Sara Jerving is Devex's East Africa Correspondent based in Nairobi. She is a reporter and producer, whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Vice News, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Nation magazine, among others. Sara holds a master's degree in business and economic reporting from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where she was a Lorana Sullivan fellow.