This article is originally from Around Africa, Jan-March 2012 edition

An award for outstanding achievements by African scientists has been created in memory of Thomas Odhiambo, the Kenyan scientist who helped found the African Academy of Sciences and TWAS (The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World).

Odhiambo, who died in 2003, is regarded as a visionary whose desire for home-grown scientific solutions saw him initiate and nurture many projects at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Kenya.

The award was created this year by ICIPE to honor scientists who excel and make outstanding pan-African contributions in the science of entomology.

The first winner of the prize, Zeyaur Khan, spearheaded the ‘push-pull’ strategy that tackles the three main impediments to cereal production in Sub-Saharan Africa: poor soil fertility, stem borers and striga weeds. It involves intercropping cereals like maize with a repellent plant such as desmodium, and planting attractive plants such as napier grass as a border crop to keep the pests out.

“It is a great honor for me to receive this award,” said Khan. “I feel proud to be associated with ICIPE for the last 25 years working for smallholder poor farmers in Africa.”

“Agricultural scientists in Africa should make sure that research provides practical solutions for the real problems of poor farmers by promoting food security and sustainable livelihoods,” he said.

By Melaura Homan-Smith