Seven Agricultural Policymakers in Africa; Making Big and Memorable Changes


André Bationo (Burkina Faso) is a soil scientist and the Chief of Party for the Smallholder Agricultural Productivity Enhancement Program (SAPEP) of the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). Bationo received the Africa Food Prize in 2020 for his work on micro-dosing fertilizer technology and farmer credit exchange systems. He previously served as Director – West Africa for AGRA and as the Coordinator of the African Network for Soil Biology and Fertility (AfNet) at CIAT’s Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute. He worked as Principal Soil Scientist seconded by IFDC to ICRISAT. Bationo’s research has focused on developing technologies that increase agricultural productivity while conserving natural resources. His research has contributed immensely to understanding soil fertility issues in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Mr. Lahbib Bentaleb (Morocco) is President of the Federation of Chambers of Agriculture in Morocco. Mr. Bentalb has played a significant role in shaping the government’s agricultural policies, especially concerning the support they provide to smaller, rural farmers. Mr. Bentalb is a leading voice for the democratization of the agriculture for protecting the rights of small farmers in Morocco.

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Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly (Mali) is the founder and owner of Faso Kaba Seed Company, which was established in 2007 as a direct response to challenges with food shortages in Mali. Coulibaly started Faso Kaba as a home-based business which sold seeds directly to local farmers; it now is a leading seed company in a network of 20 Malian companies that work together to ensure farmers access to affordable and quality seeds. 


Baba Dioum (Senegal) a Senegalese forestry engineer. In 2019 he was the joint winner of the Africa Food Prize along with Emma Naluyima of Uganda. Dioum has served in numerous governmental posts in Senegal, most recently as the Coordinator General for the Conference of West and Central African Ministers of Agriculture, a position he has held since 1991. In 1968, at the triennial meeting of the General Assembly of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), Dioum stated: “In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”

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Dr. Catherine Nakalembe (United States) is an Associate Research Professor at the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences. She serves as the Africa Program Director under NASA Harvest and is a member of the NASA SERVIR Applied Sciences Team on which she serves as the Agriculture and Food Security Thematic Lead. In 2020, she was named the Africa Food Prize Laureate for her work using satellite technology to harness data to guide agricultural decision-making, improving the lives of small farmers. Her work has directly informed policies and programs aiding farmers today.


Dr. Emma Naluyima (Uganda) is a veterinarian and urban farmer. In 2019 she was the joint winner of the Africa Food Prize along with Baba Dioum of Senegal. She is known for her approach to integrated farming, which rotates crops and animals in a circular production system that minimizes waste and incorporates education. She has held positions with the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank, the President of the Republic of Uganda, and has served as the Chairwoman of Red Cross Mbarara.


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Ruth Oniang’o (Kenya) is a Professor of Nutrition and a former member of the Kenyan Parliament. Oniang’o has won several awards for her work in agriculture and food policy, including the Distinguished Service Medal and Silver Star. In 2014, she was awarded the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) Lifetime Award. She also won the Africa Food Prize in 2017 for her work with the Rural Outreach Program, which was created to empower smallholders to address malnutrition. She oversees her country’s nutrition policy and she is on the board of the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International. She was the first nutrition professor in Kenya and has trained numerous young professionals in the field. She is also the founder and editor in chief of the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development.

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