Honouring a Lifetime of Excellence: Professor Ruth Khasaya Oniang’o Receives Prestigious AAAE Fellows Distinction - 2023

In the ever-evolving world of food systems, one name has consistently stood out as a beacon of resilience, innovation, and commitment for over three decades. Prof. Ruth Oniang’o, the AWARD winning, brilliant founder of the organization, Rural Outreach Africa (ROA), and also the esteemed Editor-in-Chief and founder of the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND), has been at the forefront of building resilient agri-food systems that has transformed the landscape of African agriculture and food security. Notably, despite holding a Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition, Prof. Oniang'o was recognized by the African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE) for her exceptional contributions to agricultural economics.

On the 20th day of September 2023, the African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE) honoured Professor Ruth's extraordinary contributions by bestowing upon her the Honorary Lifetime Membership Award, affectionately known as the "Fellows" distinction. Despite the stringent criteria outlined in Article 3.6 of the AAAE constitution for selection of candidates, Professor Ruth's exceptional contributions and dedication to agricultural economics made her the sole female recipient among a distinguished group of male awardees, a testament to her extraordinary achievements and trailblazing leadership in the field. This honour is reserved for a selected group who have demonstrated unwavering dedication, making remarkable scholarly and leadership contributions to African agricultural development over an extended period of time. Prof. Ruth’s enduring impact in the agricultural economics realm perfectly embodies the spirit of the ‘AAAE Fellows’ award.

Furthermore, as the founder and executive director of Rural Outreach Africa (ROA), Prof. Oniang'o has played a pivotal role in empowering smallholder farmers, particularly women, through various capacity-building programs and access to resources. These initiatives have not only enhanced agricultural productivity but have also contributed to poverty reduction and improved livelihoods in rural communities.

In addition to her work with ROA, Prof. Oniang'o's advocacy for nutrition-sensitive agriculture has led to a greater emphasis on the production and consumption of diverse and nutritious crops, addressing malnutrition and promoting food sovereignty. Her efforts in raising awareness about the importance of sustainable farming practices, conservation agriculture, and the utilization of indigenous crops have fostered resilience to climate change and environmental degradation.

Through her leadership roles in international organizations, academic institutions, and government and non-governmental advisory boards, Prof. Oniang'o has been instrumental in shaping agricultural policies and strategies at both national and regional levels. Her expertise and influence have been crucial in mainstreaming issues of food security, agricultural development, and nutrition into policy discourse and decision-making processes.

Overall, Prof. Ruth Oniang'o's dedication, vision, and advocacy have made significant contributions to transforming African agriculture and advancing food security, laying a foundation for more resilient and sustainable agri-food systems across the continent. Her lifetime allegiance, innovation, and transformation in building resilient agri-food systems have not only earned her the Honorary Lifetime Membership Award but also a place among the most distinguished individuals in the field of agricultural economics.

As a true pioneer and a visionary person with a heart full of passion and an unwavering commitment to the well-being of her fellow Africans, she has reshaped the narrative of agricultural development in Africa. Her journey from founding both Rural Outreach Africa (ROA) and African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND) is a testament to her enduring passion for her field and her remarkable impact on agricultural development in Africa. This Honorary Lifetime Membership Award is a well-deserved tribute to her extraordinary service.

"I woke up this morning to unexpected congratulatory messages for an Award I wasn't aware of. What a surprise! I sincerely thank the African Association of Agricultural Economists for this honour. It's truly appreciated. Thanks to all, and congratulations to my co-winners."
- Prof. Ruth Khasaya Oniang’o