The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has received the FARA leadership award for her contributions to agricultural science, technology, and innovation in Africa.
Okonjo-Iweala currently serves as the seventh Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is the first woman and first African to lead the organization. She is noted for being a strong advocate of agricultural research and development, agricultural productivity, and increasing access to food for African farmers and consumers.
In an address presented on her behalf, she quizzed that “Why do we [Africans] import so much food? Africa can and should produce enough food for itself and also for exports”. Reiterating her commitment to using trade to help African farmers, she urged stakeholders to ensure that everyone has access to nutritious food.
“Trade has a critical role to play in connecting producers and consumers across the continent and beyond. African exports have more than quadrupled over the last two decades while imports have grown five-fold. By strengthening agricultural productivity sustainably, Africa can make better use of its untapped potential including its arable land and freshwater resources.”
Okonjo-Iweala concluded her address by calling for a renewed commitment to fighting hunger and malnutrition in the world, stating that negotiators must place “people in Africa and elsewhere at the centre of their efforts to ensure that trade contributes to a dynamic sustainable and equitable food and agricultural sector in the months and years to come”.
Being an economist and development expert, she is noted to have helped to reduce Nigeria’s debt by $30 billion and play an oversight role in the implementation of a number of economic reforms that helped to stabilize the Nigerian economy.
Also, Dr Okonjo-Iweala as an advocate of trade and open markets played a key role in the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).Okonjo-Iweala was one of four recipients of the FARA leadership award. The other recipients were Dr. Papa Abdoulaye Seck, a former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Senegal; Dr. Benedict Okey Oramah, the President of the African Export-Import Bank; and Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Fisheries of the African Union Commission.
The FARA leadership award is presented annually to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to agricultural science, technology, and innovation in Africa.