Sep 8, 2022 | Blog

Cassava value addition entrepreneur named Woman Agripreneur of the Year during First Ladies meeting at AGRF Summit

Oluyemisi Iranloye, the managing director of Psaltry International, a Nigerian agro-processing company that refines cassava into starch for consumer products like toothpaste, is the winner of the 2022 VALUE4HER Women Agripreneurs of the Year Awards (WAYA). The award is designed to recognize the female entrepreneurs that excelling in different segments of the agricultural value chain.

Ms. Iranloye, whose company reaches more than 100,000 people by working with smallholder farmers, was feted during the First Ladies Special Event of the AGRF Summit in Kigali Rwanda. The session was attended by H.E. Jeannette Kagame, the first lady of Rwanda, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the first lady of Ghana, Roman Tesfaye, the former first lady of Ethiopia, and H.E. Josefa Sacko, the African Union’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment. 

A total of 1,078 applications had been received for the award, which comes with a USD$25,000 cash prize. Three other category winners were also awarded $20,000 each. Gambian Fatou Manneh, the founder of Jelmah Herbella, took the Young Female Agripreneurs award, while Rwandese Uwintwari Liliane, founder of Mahwi Tech, won the Female Agtech Innovator award. The Outstanding Value Adding Enterprise award went to Célia Chabi, the CEO of Kiel Bien-Être, a Baobab processor in Benin.

To qualify, entrepreneurs were required to have an innovative product or service in the agricultural value chains, with evidence of impact on their communities and countries.

Earlier, the first ladies made presentations on the need for urgency in accelerating Africa’s nutrition transformation.

H.E. Jeannette Kagame reiterated that economic development could not be attained in the continent without regard for nutrition transformation, adding that “good nutrition is the cornerstone of health, peace, holistic wellness & prosperity,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by H.E. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, who appealed for collaboration between African countries in fighting malnutrition.

“It is important that, together, as African countries, we build the will and investment across the continent to promote nutrition and end malnutrition. We must transform our food systems to make nutritious diets accessible, affordable, desirable and sustainable,” she said.

For a step-change, H.E. Amb. Josefa Sacko urged African leaders to fast track the transformation of the food system pathways established at the UN Food Systems Summit in New York last year into strategies and investments.

“Following the Africa Common Position of the UN Food Systems Summit, the onus is on all of us to facilitate and implement the proposed interventions and outcomes proposed,” she said.

H.E. Roman Tesfaye cited the implementation of local solutions like school feeding programs as foundational for ending Africa’s nutritional problems.

“If we are dedicated to bringing down the mortality rate of children [in Africa] we have to work on nutrition. In Ethiopia, children who participated in school feeding programs reported improved academic performance, gained weight and had reduced incidence of dropping out and absenteeism,” she said.

The session also featured a moderated panel discussion that had the participation of Prof. Ruth Oniang’o, the Founder and Director of Rural Outreach Africa; H.E. Gerda Verburg, Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement; Coumba Dieng Sow, an agronomist; Hon. Ildephonse Musafiri, Rwanda’s Minister for Agriculture, and Dr. Gunhild Stordalen, Founder and chair of the EAT Forum.

The panel addressed the strategies for integrating nutritious foods into diets, with a focus on the integration of locally available ingredients in meal plans.

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