Every year the World Food Prize recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug created the prize, which emphasizes the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people.
This year’s event was held from Oct. 16-19 in Des Moines, Iowa, and also included a USDA-sponsored symposium for 40 foreign scientists from 23 countries (and their university mentors) in the Foreign Agricultural Service's Borlaug Fellowship Program. Since 2004, the program has provided U.S.-based training and collaborative research opportunity for scientists and policymakers from developing and middle-income countries to promote food security and economic growth.
The USDA-sponsored symposium featured discussions on topics such as climate change, biotechnology and coffee farming in Latin America. The fellows were also able to network with each other and meet members of the Borlaug family, high-level agricultural researchers and policymakers and this year’s World Food Prize Laureates. One of the Laureates, Dr. Robert Fraley, was the keynote speaker for the symposium.
“I was impressed by the tenacity and devotion of the Laureates, and I think their commitment to science earned them the coveted award,” said Muriira Geoffrey Karau, a Borlaug Fellow from Kenya who is attending Tennessee State University to learn about biotechnology methods for grains. “I learned that I can help the world food crisis by using my basic science to come up with innovative and practical ideas that address climate change and its effect on food production.”
For Borlaug Fellow James Mlamba from Malawi, the recognition of young scientists through the Borlaug Field Award was a memorable part of the symposium. “Borlaug saw the prize as a means of establishing role models who would inspire others,” said Mlamba, who is the principal land resource conservation officer for Malawi's Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. “The recognition of Charity Mutegi’s work to prevent the spread of alflatoxin is a remarkable story as it shows how one dedicated person can make a difference in a society. She proved that science has a place in tackling the problem of food insecurity and post harvest food losses.”
By providing the Borlaug Fellows with the opportunity to attend these events, FAS seeks to inspire them in their future food security endeavors in the hope that someday one will receive the World Food Prize too.