Malawi’s NPC chairperson Prof. Mkandawire honoured in inaugural AfreximBank Research & Innovation Competence in Agriculture Awards

* In category of Impactful and Evidence-Based Policies Award presented at AfreximBank AGM in Bahamas

* Honoured alongside Nigerian Umezuruike Linus Opara in category of  Africa Research Excellence Award

By Tikondane Vega, MANA in Nassau, Bahamas

The Board chairperson of Malawi’s National Planning Commission (NPC), Professor Richard Mkandawire — a socio-economist and rural development expert, who is currently Director of Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) — has been honoured with the inaugural Afreximbank Research & Innovation Competence in Agriculture Awards.


The awards were announced at the on-going AfreximBank annual general meeting 2024 in Bahamas and he was honoured alongside and Nigerian, Umezuruike Linus Opara — a distinguished professor in Post-Harvest Technology in the Faculty of Agri-Sciences at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

The two were awarded for their notable contributions to the research development and capacity building of Africa’s agriculture and food systems.

The awards were given by the Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa (FARA) and the AfreximBank and Mkandawire’s is the category of ‘Impactful and Evidence-Based Policies Award — for his foundational role in conceptualising the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and catalysing its domestication in African countries.

He is CAADP former head at the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) — now referred to as the African Union Development Agency (AUDA) — where he was the principal architect in the design and adoption of CAADP.


While Umezuruike was awarded the ‘Africa Research Excellence Award’ in recognition of his contribution to developing and validating a novel integrated value chain approach to post harvest research, innovation and capacity building in Africa.

Professor Mkandawire received the prize in absentia as he had to travel from Washington DC to Malawi following the tragic loss of Vice-President Saulos Chilima, former First Lady Madame Patricia Shanil Dzimbiri and 7 others in the plane crash on Monday.

“I had hoped of coming in person to receive the award but, as you know, the tragic loss of our Vice-President necessitated returning from Washington DC to Malawi,” he said in a telephone interview.

“I am currently in transit in Addis Ababa,” said Mkandawire, who is also Board chairperson of Malawi Agriculture Policy Advancement & Transformation Agenda (MwAPATA) Institute.

The Africa awardees are selected by an autonomous entity — the Africa independent awards selection committee (AIASC), comprising five eminent personalities jointly appointed by the president & Board chairperson AfreximBank and FARA executive director of.

The AIASC is supported by the Africa Awards working group (AAWG), composed of dedicated professionals from FARA and AfreximBank.

The awards seek to recognise and celebrate individuals, groups of individuals, or established organizations that have recorded excellence in advancing the agricultural innovation space.

In 2022, Prof. Mkandawire was conferred an honorary doctorate degree by South Africa’s University of Pretoria in recognition of his contribution to the transformation of Africa’s agriculture and food systems as well as empowerment of the youth on the continent.

In announcing the news in 2022 on its website NPC quoted a letter from University of Pretoria’s Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Prof. Tawana Kupe as saying the conferment followed his nomination by the University’s Faculty of Natural & Agricultural Sciences.

It cited Prof. Mkandawire’s leadership and contribution towards development initiatives across many countries in Africa which is embodied in his practical work in public policy and academia over the past four decades.

NPC noted that the CAADP, of which Prof. Mkandawire was the principal architect, “has become Africa’s blueprint for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security & nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all”.

NPC, framers of the MW2063 national vision, acknowledges that Prof Mkandawire was instrumental in translating the 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture & Food Security into CAADP – an inclusive agenda with tangible impact on African agriculture and food security.

He has also worked as regional director of Commonwealth Youth Programme where he facilitated the establishment of National Youth Commissions in support of youth employment, youth reproductive health, and youth policy analysis and development.

He was also the founding Director of the Centre for Youth Studies at the University of Venda for Science & Technology in the 1990s and his academic publications over the past four decades have been valuable in shaping the discourse on agricultural transformation, food systems, youth empowerment and capacity development in Africa.

Prof Mkandawire’s academic career includes teaching and research at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources (LUANAR) where he was at the helm of leadership in the establishment of the Centre for Agriculture Research & Development (CARD).—Edited by Maravi Express