Nigeria’s  Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, is the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate. His leading role in expanding food production in Nigeria and also introducing initiatives to exponentially increase the availability of credit for Africa’s smallholder farmers while galvanizing the political will to transform African agriculture.

According to a press release from the WFP Foundation the ceremony was held at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington where the secretary of agriculture Sonny Perdue gave keynote remarks applauding the selection.

Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation said that “the selection of Adesina reflects on his achievements as Nigeria’s agriculture minister and his role in the development of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). It also gives further impetus to his profound vision for enhancing nutrition, uplifting smallholder farmers, and inspiring the next generation of Africans as they confront the challenges of the 21st century.

His policies expanded Nigeria’s food production by 21 million metric tons, and the country attracted $5.6 billion in private sector investments in agriculture – earning him the reputation as the “farmer’s Minister.”

“As someone who grew out of poverty, I know that poverty is not pretty,” said Dr. Adesina. “My life mission is to lift up millions of people out of poverty, especially farmers in rural areas of Africa. We must give hope and turn agriculture into a business all across Africa to create wealth for African economies. The World Food Prize gives me an even greater global platform to make that future happen much faster for Africa.”

While at AGRA, Dr. Adesina developed partnerships with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Kilimo Trust to provide loans to tens of thousands of smallholder farmers and the agribusinesses that support them in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Mozambique.

As Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture from 2011 to 2015, Adesina successfully transformed his country’s agriculture sector through bold reforms, including creating programs to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production, and to help cassava become a major cash crop.

He also took major steps to end over 40 years of corruption in the fertilizer and seed sectors in Nigeria by launching the E-Wallet system, directly providing farmers with vouchers redeemable for inputs using mobile phones. The resulting increased farm yields have led to the improvement of food security for 40 million people in rural farm households.

The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, the World Food Prize has honored 45 outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions throughout the world.