The World Food Prize Foundation

2018 Side Events

‘African Youth Rising to the Challenge’: Bringing together key global partners contributing to Africa's Transformation

10/17/2018 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Cedar Rapids & Council Bluffs Rooms, 3rd Floor | Des Moines Marriott Downtown
Dr. Dianah R. Ngonyama
 +1 860 389-0867

This side event brings together global universities and various organizations supporting training of the African youth in various agricultural fields (Agron, Plant breeding, Horticulture, Dairy production, Beef Production, Poultry production, Food science & processing, Agric engineering etc), and those developing new technologies that benefit African farmers. Last year the President of African Development Bank (AfDB) and 2017 Laureate, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina challenged the global community to support training of the African Youth through the ENABLE Youth program and other youth empowerment initiatives. During this event, discussions will focus on opportunities for expanding specialized training programs and creating more economic empowerment opportunities for Africa’s youth throughout the agricultural value chain, from the lab to farm to fork. With the right skills, improved access to finance and an enabling policy environment, the African youth can become proud innovators creating new and profitable agribusinesses. The African youth are critical players in the African Development Bank’s other flagship initiatives such as the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), the TAAT-Savannah and the Staple Crops Processing Zones (SCPZ) Initiatives.

Objectives of the Side Event are:

(1) To promote integration of efforts by different organizations and universities to accelerate development efforts that empower the African Youth, and

(2) Facilitate the development of new partnership between Global universities and African universities, as well as between industry and universities to build capacity for training and research, and facilitate technology transfer to meet the goal for “Africa to Feed Itself” by year 2025.

The event program will include a Luncheon sponsored by Bayer Company, AATF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the following activities:



10:00 – 10:10 AM Welcome Remarks (AfDB and AAAPD) 

10:10 – 11:00 AM Session 1: Presentations by Global Universities (ISU, MSU, UW, and UK universities) 

11:00 – 11:30 AM Session 2: Presentations by African Youth/Students

11:30 – 12:30 PM Welcome Speech by President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Adesina
                                 Session 3: Panel Discussion (Leaders from US/European/African Universities, AfDB, Gates Foundation,                                                Industry/Bayer)
                                 Q&A, Summary Outcome and Wrap-up

12:30 – 13:00 PM Lunch (hosted by Bayer, AATF and the BMGF)

Target Audience includes: the youth, academia/universities, private sector companies, policy makers, global leaders and potential investors and donors.

Highlighted Speakers: 

H.E. Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina (Keynote Speaker) - 2017 World Food Prize Laureate

Hon. Prof. Ruth K Oniang'o Chair of the Board, Sasakawa Africa Foundation

Hon. Prof Yaye Kène Gassama - National Academy of Sciences, Senegal

Dr. Dianah R. Ngonyama - President of the Association of African Agricultural Professionals in the Diaspora (AAAPD)

Mark Edge - Director of Collaborations for Developing Countries, Bayer CropScience Co.

Dr. Ed Mabaya - African Development Bank, Manager - Agribusiness Development Division
(AHAI.1), Agriculture & Agro-industry Department

Click here for more information on our distinguished speakers!

Co-Hosts: AAAPD, African Development Bank, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bayer Corporation, AATF, RUFORUM, Iowa State University, Michigan State University and University of Wisconsin-Madison

RSVP Information: Please confirm interest to attend and join the Luncheon & exciting discussion!


Professor Ruth Oniang’o is a Kenyan graduate ofWashington State University, Pullman, and University of Nairobi. She has taught in Kenyan universities and is Adjunct at Tufts University, Massachusetts. She is President of Academy of Food Science and Technology. She spearheaded the completion of Kenya’s food and nutrition policy, facilitated the establishment of nutrition departments in Africa and has given a voice to these issues internationally. She served in the Kenyan Parliament; founded Rural Outreach Africa, to serve women smallholder farmers; and founded African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, to highlight African issues. She is Board Chair of Sasakawa Africa Association and Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education, stepping into the shoes of co-founder, the late Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, who was president of SAA and SAFE. She received the 2014 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) Lifetime Award. She is currently a member of the Board of the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), which has its headquarters in the UK. She also serves on the Nestle Board.She is the 2017 joint recipient of the Africa Food Prize. In 2018 she received Honoris Causa (Doctor of Science) at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. She is a strong advocate for Nutrition and eradication of hunger and poverty, and women empowerment and youth mentoring in Africa. She believes Africa is capable of ridding itself of the scourges of poverty and illiteracy, both very indignifying. Children of the educated are not malnourished, and those with a good income do not go hungry. Ruth uses her lifelong experiences to inspire young people. She enjoys Public Speaking to mentor and encourage the next generation into making the world a better place.


Professor Yaye Kene Gassama is acting as Chair of African Union High level Panel on Emerging Technologies and vice chair of the National Science Academy of Senegal. She was previously Minister in charge of Science and technology of Senegal. Acting as chair of African Ministerial Conference of Science and Technology (AMCOST), she actively participated in the elaboration, endorsement and implementation of the African strategy of Consolidated Action Plan (CAP) in science and Technology (African Union). She served as Ceo of the National Agency for Scientific and Applied Research and developed strategic framework for youth employment and girl’s enrollment in STI. Mrs Gassama is professor in Plant biotechnology at University Cheikh Anta Diop Dakar Senegal. As national coordinator for biosafety, she provided support and advice for development of legislative framework on biosafety for Senegal and the West Africa region.



Dr. Dianah R. Ngonyama is President of the Association of African Agricultural Professionals in the Diaspora (AAAPD), which spreads across the US, Canada, Europe and Asia regions. The membership comprise of highly qualified African agricultural experts who are eager to volunteer their time and expertise on efforts that contribute to Africa’s economic transformation. She has been working in the Global Agricultural Biotech industry for +20 years covering US, Europe and Africa, and has contributed to the successful development and commercialization of various biotech traits. Dianah is very passionate about making sure that African farmers have access to advanced technologies, and that the African youth especially young women are empowered to lead agricultural development programs on the continent. In US private sector, Dr Ngonyama worked at Monsanto Company and J.R. Simplot. She led various biotech projects including the R&D phase of the WEMA Biotech Project for Africa that has potential to benefit millions of African smallholder farmers. Dianah holds a PhD in Dairy Science (Nutrition – Corn Quality traits) from University of Wisconsin-Madison, MSc in Animal and Forage Science from University of Reading, UK and an MBA degree with strong focus on Global leadership. Dianah strongly believes in leveraging partnerships between the private sector, universities, and the public sector to facilitate Africa’s transformation.



Dr. Ed Mabaya is a scholar and a development practitioner with more than two decades of experience working on agricultural development, agribusiness value chains and food security issues in Africa. He is the Division Manager of Agribusiness Development (AHAI1) at the African Development Bank where he manages programs and investments in support of the Feed Africa strategy.  Previously, he was a senior research associate in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University where he conducted research on food marketing and distribution, enabling environments, seed systems and the role of efficient agricultural markets in Africa’s economic development.   He has published widely on these topics. His work has received many distinguished recognitions including for “42 African Innovators to Watch in 2016” by Ventures Africa magazine, Coca Cola Africa Diaspora Network 2013 recognition for "dedicated service and contribution towards sustainable development in Africa" and the 2006 and 2017 L.A. Potts Success Story awards for “program with model resulting in high impact on poor communities”. Mabaya earned his MSc (1998) and PhD (2003) degrees in agricultural economics at Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science (1994) from the University of Zimbabwe. He is the current President of African Association of Agricultural Economists.   Mabaya was an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow (2007) and The Aspen Institute’s New Voices Fellow (2016).

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