Three young innovators emerge in AfDB’s AgriPitch competition

24/05/2017
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Three top young innovators have emerged from the African Development Bank (AfDB)’s AgriPitch competition – a contest that embodies the dynamism of African youth as future of agriculture on the continent.

Ababio Kwame from Ghana was awarded first prize, while Mary Joseph from Kenya won second place. Mahmud Johnson of Liberia clinched the third prize. The young Agripreneurs were announced during the Bank’s 52nd Annual Meetings taking place from May 22-26, 2017 in Ahmedabad, India.

The AgriPitch competition is a joint initiative of the AfDB, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the African Agribusiness Incubation Network (AAIN) and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). It is in direct line with one of the five main priorities of the AfDB- High 5, “Feed Africa”,

The competition was launched in March 2017 by the Bank in Abidjan, to show agriculture in Africa under the banner of innovation and is set within the wider framework of the Annual Meetings session “Agriculture is Cool: Engaging Africa’s Youth”.

Ababio Kwame, 24, is the owner and founder of Green Afro Palms. Formed in 2012 in Ghana, his company specializes in the production, extraction and marketing of palm oil. It has also gone into transformation, with the sale of higher value-added products, including palm fibre cakes and cosmetics.

Second prize-winner, Mary Joseph, is the Director of Partnerships and Foreign Relations at Nairobi-based FarmDrive. She developed an innovative solution, providing detailed risk profiles of small farmers to financial institutions in Kenya, where small producers have great difficulty in obtaining loans and financing from the banks

Founder of J-Palm Liberia, Mahmud Johnson, 23, won third prize for the innovative cosmetic products he developed produced from palm oil and palm kernel oil, focusing on serving local customers. His products were based on a detailed consumer-oriented market study he conducted.

“Agriculture today must be a plugged-in sector,” said John Dramani Mahama, former president of Ghana. “We must act quickly and engage the young, the creative ones, in developing the agricultural sector. We need to prepare for the future by preparing the young.”

An invitation to which Noel Mulinganya, Coordinator of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Kalambo Youth Agripreneurs Programme in East Democratic Republic of the Congo, responded: “Young Africans can have innovative ideas. But they want these ideas to be financed. They want to develop a model which inspires other young people.”

For her part, Evelyn Ohanwusi, Head, Partnership Advocacy and Resources Mobilization for the IITA Youth Agripreneurs Programme, stressed the need to increase mechanization in the sector, as well as using new technologies.

“We need a tractor to cultivate the fields. But we also need the Internet, so that we can order a tractor,” she said.

The African Development Bank has released close to USD 800 million in six countries to support agricultural projects developed by young people, namely in Sudan, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Cameroon and Zambia. More projects are expected to be approved in 15 countries in 2017-2018. Thanks to the Bank’s initiatives, over 300,000 enterprises and over 1.5 million direct jobs are expected to be created between now and 2025.

Over 3,000 delegates, including Heads of State and Government, Ministers of Finance and Heads of Central Banks, participated in the AfDB Annual Meetings in India.

You can find video portraits of our 3 AgriPitch prize-winning agripreneurs at:

To find out more about the AfDB’s Feed Africa Strategy, click here.

For more on the Annual Meetings: www.afdb.org/am

Agriculture is Cool: Engaging Africa’s Youth , AM 2017