Borlaug Fellows Gather in Des Moines for World Food Prize

Last month, hundreds of people from around the world gathered in Des Moines, Iowa, to honor this year’s World Food Prize Laureate, Dr. Daniel Hillel, for his pioneering scientific work in micro-irrigation. His drip technology revolutionized the way farmers watered crops and increased food production in the arid regions of the Middle East and other parts of the world for the past five decades.

Dr. Hillel’s recognition inspired many in attendance including Dr. Rajashekhara Rao Korada, a senior scientist from India currently in the United States for the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program, a program named in honor of the “Father of the Green Revolution.” During his 12-week fellowship at Louisiana State University, he’s studying pest management strategies for sweet potato crops. 

Dr. Korada hopes his studies enable him to one day contribute to world food security on as great a level as Dr. Hillel has. “I have a mission, though in an immature stage, to feed the hungry and the poorest of the poor. This mission has been further inspired by Dr. Hillel,” he said after meeting Dr. Hillel during the ceremony.

Dr. Korada was one of 38 Borlaug Fellows from 18 countries who attended the annual Borlaug International Symposium and World Food Prize ceremony Oct. 17-19. FAS has invited the fellows to the event since 2006 to meet current and former World Food Prize Laureates and to learn about critical agricultural issues facing our world today.

On Oct. 17, Dr. Hillel gave the keynote address at an FAS side event, “Saving the Planet: Youth in Agriculture,” stressing a holistic approach to agriculture that takes into account various scientific disciplines and policies to increase agricultural productivity. FAS Deputy Administrator Patricia Sheikh chaired the panel of speakers for the FAS event, which included Dr. Elizabeth Obeng, a Borlaug Fellow from Ghana studying agro-forestry and climate change at the University of Missouri – Columbia. Dr. Obeng presented on behalf of the fellows their innovative strategies for engaging youth in agriculture.

The fellows also met Norman Borlaug’s granddaughter, Julie Borlaug, who told heartfelt stories about her grandfather during a luncheon that inspired the fellows to carry the torch for innovation in agriculture. Borlaug Fellows also met with other members of the Borlaug Family, past World Food Prize Laureates and other high-level agricultural researchers and policy-makers who attended.

By providing the Borlaug Fellows with the opportunity to attend these events, FAS seeks to inspire them in their future endeavors in the hope that someday one will receive the World Food Prize.