News / USA

World Food Prize Laureate Heads Global Food Security Center

Kane Farabaugh
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.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More