2019 Maize Youth Innovators Awards – Africa

21 January 2019

NAIROBI (Kenya) – The CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) has announced the launch of the 2019 MAIZE Youth Innovators Awards – Africa. These awards recognize the contributions of young women and men below 35 years of age who are implementing innovations in African maize-based agri-food systems, including research-for-development, seed systems, agribusiness, and sustainable intensification. Nominations are now open, and eligible applicants are encouraged to apply.

Award recipients will be invited to attend the annual Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) project meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, May 7-9 where they will receive their awards and be given the opportunity to present their work. The project meeting and award ceremony will also allow these young innovators to network and exchange experiences with MAIZE researchers and partners. Award recipients may also get the opportunity to collaborate with MAIZE and its partner scientists in Africa on implementing or furthering their innovations.

These awards are part of the efforts that MAIZE is undertaking to promote youth participation in maize based agri-food systems. Young people are the key to ensuring a food-secure future and agricultural sustainability. However, rural youth face many challenges related to unemployment, underemployment and poverty. According to the FAO, facilitating young people’s participation in agriculture has the potential to drive widespread rural poverty reduction among young people and adults alike. In Africa, where over 300 million smallholder-farming families grow and consume maize as a staple crop, the human population stands at 1.2 billion people, 60 percent of whom are below the age of 25.

The MAIZE Youth Innovators Awards aim to identify young innovators who can serve to inspire other young people to get involved in maize-based agri-food systems. Part of the vision is to create a global network of young innovators in maize-based systems from around the world. The first instalment of the awards was held last year with the 2018 MAIZE-Asia Youth Innovators Awards. The winners of the awards were invited to the 13th Asian Maize Conference held in Ludhiana, India to present their research.

The 2019 MAIZE Youth Innovators Awards are sponsored by MAIZE in collaboration with YPARD (Young Professionals for Agricultural Development). MAIZE invites young innovators to apply and CGIAR researchers and partners to nominate eligible applicants for any of the following three categories:

  1. Researcher: Maize research-for-development (in any discipline)
  2. Farmer: Maize farming systems in Africa
  3. Change agent: Maize value chains (i.e., extension agents, input and service suppliers, transformation agents etc.)

The application form and application guidelines can be found here.


The CGIAR Research Program on MAIZE (MAIZE) is an international collaboration between more than 300 partners that seeks to mobilize global resources in maize research and development to achieve a greater strategic impact on maize-based farming systems in Africa, South Asia and Latin America.

Led by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) as its main CGIAR partner, MAIZE focuses on increasing maize production for the 900 million poor consumers for whom maize is a staple food in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. MAIZE’s overarching goal is to double maize productivity and increase incomes and livelihood opportunities from sustainable maize-based farming systems.

For further information, contact:

Jennifer Johnson
Communications Officer
CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE)
CIMMYT, Mexico
Telephone: +52 (55) 5804 2004 ext. 1036
Email: j.a.johnson@cgiar.org

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