News / USA

    World Food Prize Laureate Heads Global Food Security Center

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — Purdue University scientist Gebisa Ejeta is known in agriculture for enhancing sorghum crops in Africa.  The 2009 World Food Prize Laureate is on a quest to help the world better understand the causes of global food insecurity as the world population increases. 

    Gebisa Ejeta’s air conditioned office at Purdue University is a world away from the one-room thatched hut with mud floors where he grew up in Ethiopia.

    “There wasn’t any school in the community where I grew up, said the World Food Prize laureate. "And when my parents particularly my mother decided to send me to school, the only school was about 20 kilometers, about 12 miles from home.”

    Even though his village - Wollonkomi - is not on most maps, it was a place that reinforced the importance of agriculture for Ejeta.

    “Because that’s the primary way of life," he said.  "There isn’t any other alternative.  But agriculture is also important globally because it’s the most fundamental need of humanity.”

    That fundamental need is increasing as the growing world population demands a more varied diet, something Ejeta learned after he left his village to study agriculture.  

    He came to the U.S. where he earned a doctorate in plant studies at Purdue University, which he put to use in his first project in the field - developing a sorghum grain hybrid in sub-Saharan Africa.  

    “That hybrid was highly productive and drought tolerant, and made a huge difference in the lives of people there,” said Ejeta.

    The hybrid led to a crop that farmers could depend on, and earned Ejeta the World Food Prize, which aided his quest to change perceptions about food.

    That quest led to the creation last year of Purdue University’s Global Food Security Center, which Ejeta heads.  The center helps universities and organizations around the world better understand agricultural production.  

    “It’s an enormous challenge," said Gary Burniske, managing direct of the center.

    Burniske says the biggest challenge is securing funding. “Over the past 20 years, there’s been a substantial decline in investment in agriculture and issues that relate to agricultural and livestock production.  And so what we have come to realize particularly with the 2006-2008 food crisis that we need to seriously address food security issues now in order to guarantee food security in 10, 20, or 30 years,” he said.

    Ejeta says he hopes students who learn through programs coordinated by the center will fight against hunger.

    “Resources of water, resources of land are getting to be more and more of a problem, so we want to develop education so that our students - the next generations of Americans - understand the complexities of global food security,” he said.

    That security is threatened as fertilizer and fuel costs soar, and more people try to grow food on less land with restricted access to water.

    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora