A BBC report once described 60-year-old president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Dr. Akinwumi Adesina as a sharp dresser known for his expensive tailored suits, immaculate white shirts and who has an endless supply of colourful bow ties.
A renowned development economist and agricultural development expert, with 30 years of international experience having graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics (First Class Honours) from the University of Ife (Now, Obafemi Awolowo University), Nigeria, in 1981.
Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina was the first student to obtain First Class Honours in Agricultural Economics in the history of the University and he also holds a master’s degree (1985) and a PhD in Agricultural Economics (1988) from Purdue University, USA, where he got the Outstanding PhD thesis award for that year.
In 1988 Akinwumi Adesina won the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation Social Science Fellowship launching him into his international career he also had a stint as a senior economist at the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) in the Ivory Coast for 6 years.
He was appointed as the representative of the Rockefeller Foundation Social Science Fellowship for the southern African area, a position Adesina held until he was promoted to an associate director for food security in 2003.
Before his appointment as Minister of Agriculture in 2010 under the Goodluck Jonathan-administration he was Vice President of Policy and Partnerships for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) a position he held until the exit of the administration in 2015.
During his tenure as Minister of Agriculture, he was responsible for spearheading the reform of a near-comatose agricultural system by introducing more transparency into the fertilizer supply chain and bringing up innovative ideas such as giving farmers mobile phones.
As a result, Nigeria ended 40 years of corruption in the fertilizer sector by developing and implementing an innovative electronic wallet system, which directly provides farmers with subsidized farm inputs at scale using their mobile phones.
His style of administration at that time succeeded in attracting $5.6 billion in private sector investment commitments which transformed the Nigerian farmers landscape from subsistence farming to commercial farming.
His efforts were also recognized on a global scale as he was appointed as one of 17 global leaders to spearhead the Millennium Development Goals by the United Nations Secretary-General.
Dr Adesina radically led financing initiatives to support youth engagement in agriculture and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that helped in no small means to expand Nigeria’s food production by an additional 21 million metric tonnes.
Once a Senior Economist and Social Science Coordinator for the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (1995-1998) and Assistant Principal Economist of the International Crops Research Institute for the SemiArid Tropics (1988-1990) is also a prolific writer authoring over 70 scholarly publications on policy, agricultural development and African development issues.
He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Purdue University, USA, in 2008.
He received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009 and the Grand Commander of Great Ife in 2013, both from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria.
Adesina was awarded the Borlaug CAST Communications Award in 2010 by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, USA, for his global leadership on agricultural science and technology. In May 2011, Franklin and Marshall College, USA, awarded Dr. Adesina an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for his innovative reforms and global leadership in improving the lives and livelihoods of the poor. In November 2014, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Agriculture by Purdue University, USA, for his application of economic principles and the power of markets to public policy that resulted in improved livelihoods for millions of Nigerian rural households through his agricultural reforms. In December 2015, Dr Adesina was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the Adekunle Ajasin University, Nigeria. In the same year, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. In March 2017, Dr. Adesina received an Honorary Doctorate of Management from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria.
Nations have continued to celebrate Dr Adesina’s accomplishments. In 2012, Dr Adesina was conferred with Nigeria’s second highest National Honour, the Commander of the Order of the Niger, for his outstanding service to his country, Nigeria. In recognition of his outstanding Biography of Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina — President of the African Development Bank Group 5 leadership, passion and dedication to accelerating African development, he was awarded the highest national honours of Senegal, Cameroon, Madagascar, Togo, Liberia and Niger. In October 2017, the World Food Prize Foundation awarded Dr Akinwumi Adesina the World Food Prize, generally known as the “Nobel Prize for Agriculture”. Dr Adesina devoted his $250,000 Laureates award to establish the World Hunger Fighters Foundation to support the youth in agriculture and to develop a new generation of world hunger fighters.
Dr Adesina a native of Ogun state, Nigeria and his wife, Grace, have two sons, Rotimi and Segun, and are blessed with a granddaughter, Noemi.