Okuafo Foundation, the agriculture technology solutions service provider, has won the Zayed Sustainability Prize in the Food Category, becoming the first Ghana-based winner of the prestigious award, at its 12th annual awards ceremony, held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The Zayed Sustainability Prize’s ‘Food Category’ is open to small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and non-profits (NPOs), with the winner receiving US$600,000 to develop their solution or service. Among many objectives, this category typically rewards organisations that are committed to ending hunger and malnutrition, increasing agricultural productivity, or ensuring sustainable food production systems. Organisations must also demonstrate a vision and long-term plan to further deploy their solution and scale up their impact, as well as inspiring others to follow suit by advancing sustainable and human development.
Presented by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Okuafo Foundation’s Co-founder and AI Research Lead, Mustapha Diyaol Haqq, accepted the award before an audience of world leaders, UAE government ministers, esteemed international dignitaries, and thousands of guests in attendance. This Prize’s showpiece, annual event is held each year at the start of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
Okuafo Foundation received the award in the Food category for the development of a smartphone application using AI to determine and diagnose diseases in crops at an early stage – without an internet connection. This has helped 30,000 farmers reduce their crop losses and improve their harvest by 50 per cent, in Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, and Burkina Faso.
The annual US$3 million Prize is the UAE’s pioneering sustainability award for recognising impactful, innovative, and inspirational solutions of small to medium-sized companies, non-profit organisations, and high schools. The Prize is inspired by and in honour of the sustainability and humanitarian legacy of the founding father and 1st President of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Dr. Lamya Fawwaz, Director of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, said: “The importance of organisations in driving forward positive changes and implementing innovative sustainability practices and solutions will be vital to the world’s social and economic development, in the years and decades to come.”
Dr. Lamya continued: “Food security remains a key consideration and global sustainability challenge for the future; however, we have been impressed by the high calibre and quality of projects submitted in the Food Category this year. I, therefore, congratulate Okuafo Foundation on its winning solution and also for becoming the first recipient from Ghana to win a Zayed Sustainability Prize. Innovations in the agricultural sector will be key to tackling the issue of food productivity and security and Okuafo Foundation’s approach is not only an impactful solution benefitting many farmers today, it is clearly an inspiration and model for other like-minded organisations and within the communities they serve.”
In recognition of winning the Zayed Sustainability Prize, Co-Founder of Okuafo Foundation, Mustapha Diyaol Haqq, said: “We are extremely honoured and humbled to be the winners of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, in the Food category. This award comes at a time when it is most needed. We live in times where families are working extremely hard but gain close to nothing as output. Smallholder farmers are living in extreme poverty and hunger and, despite working all year round to produce food, they get very little returns from their input. The winning prize fund will enable us to empower farmers, across Africa, with sustainable AI-powered solutions that will revolutionise the way they farm, store, and process their yields. This, ultimately, lives up to the legacy and goal of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan [the founding father of the UAE] of ensuring no child goes to bed with an empty stomach.”
For the 2020 awards, a record number of 2,373 submissions were received from 129 countries, which were shortlisted to 76, then became 30 finalists. The eventual 10 winners included four organisations, in the Health, Food, Energy, and Water categories, and six Global High Schools – one per world region.
To date, the Prize, including its previous winners across all categories, has directly and indirectly impacted the lives of over 335 million people. In the Global High Schools category, the number of people impacted by the Global High School winners is approximately 400,000.