IFPRI Alumna Wins Yara Prize for an African Green Revolution

Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin Tapped for Founding Ethiopia Commodities Exchange
September 5, 2012

Two women making great strides in reducing hunger and poverty in Africa—both of whom have ties to IFPRI— were tapped today as recipients of a prestigious, Africa-focused prize.

Yara, a Norwegian fertilizer producer, awarded Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, founder and outgoing CEO of the Ethiopia Commodities Exchange(ECX) and Dr. Agnes Kalibata, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources in Rwanda, the The Yara Prize for an African Green Revolution.

An internationally recognized thought leader on African agricultural transformation, Dr. Gabre-Madhin was awarded for “showing visionary and remarkable leadership in managing the transformation process toward an efficiently functioning market, especially for smallholder coffee producers in Ethiopia.”

“We are proud that Dr. Gabre-Madhin, who has a long, fruitful relationship with IFPRI, has been aptly recognized for the ECX, which she conceived while she led a country-driven research and capacity-strengthening program for IFPRI in Ethiopia,” said IFPRI’s Director General Shenggen Fan.

Dr. Gabre-Madhin was inspired to create the ECX while serving as an IFPRI Senior Research Fellow and Program Leader for the Ethiopia Strategy Support Program between 2004 and 2008. During this time, she interviewed smallscale farmers and grain traders, who told her that they were unable to sell their products at higher prices in markets due to market inefficiencies, such as bribes and lack of contract enforcement.

After further research, she designed a commodity exchange that would bring formalized trust in the market, as well as market institutions to ensure quality grades and standards, warehouse receipts, coordinated trading, payment systems, and contract enforcement. Read more about the foundation of the ECX in this IFPRI essay by Dr. Gabre-Madhin.

Due to this success, the ECX has improved farmers’ livelihoods, the country’s export performance, and its agro-industrial processing. Furthermore, ECX’s impact on 15 million coffee farmers affects two-thirds of Ethiopia’s export revenue: farmers’ final price share has increased from 35% to 65% as marketing chain inefficiencies are reduced and domestic prices are now 90% correlated with international prices since information flows to all actors.

Yara awarded Kalibata, a member of IFPRI’s Strategic Advisory Council, for “her great leadership in the transformation of food security and agricultural development in Rwanda in a relatively short period of time.”

Read more about the Yara Prize on the Yara website.