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Agricultural Economist Wins 2017 World Food Prize

Prestigious award known as “Nobel Prize of Food and Agriculture”

For the second year in a row, an agricultural economist is the recipient of the prestigious World Food Prize. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, is the 2017 Laureate, which is an international award “recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world.”

Dr. Adesina has spent his career helping expand food production in Africa and changing the political landscape to help African farmers now and into the future.

In 2006 Dr. Adesina organized the Africa Fertilizer Summit, then helped expand commercial bank lending to farmers in his role in the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. He became Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, where he was given the nickname “the farmer’s Minister”, in part, because of his policy reform.

“Dr. Adesina’s work exemplifies the kind of profound impact that an agricultural and applied economist can have,” said AAEA Past President Jayson Lusk. Lusk is Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, where Dr. Adesina earned his master’s degree and PhD.  “Dr. Adesina helped design and promote policies that improved access to capital, technology, and inputs that benefited millions of African farmers.”

Current AAEA President Scott Swinton, who worked with Dr. Adesina when he was at Purdue, says “Even as a graduate student, Akin Adesina was looking for ways to make African agriculture function better economically. His PhD thesis explored how smallholders in the Republic of Niger could adapt to uncertain rainfall by optimizing the planting of new millet and sorghum cultivars.  Over the decades since, he has kept that sharp focus on optimizing African agriculture.”

“Agricultural economists are finding important new ways to raise poor farmers’ incomes and meet consumers’ food needs,” Swinton said.  “It is exciting to see these contributions recognized through the World Food Prize to Akinwumi Adesina in 2017 and to Jan Low in 2016.”

Dr. Adesina will receive his award October 19, 2017, during the World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa. The event, which will include world-class economists and researchers from around the world, will be broadcast live on Iowa Public Television and online.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 20 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit

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