World Food Prize names new chair for Laureate Selection Committee

by Eric Schroeder
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Gebisa Ejeta chair of the World Food Prize
Gebisa Ejeta

WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Gebisa Ejeta, PhD, 2009 World Food Prize Laureate, has been named chairman of the Laureate Selection Committee. In his role, Ejeta will direct the annual selection of the World Food Prize Laureate.

Ejeta becomes only the third individual to serve as chair of the Laureate Selection Committee, joining Norman E. Borlaug and M.S. Swaminathan.

“Now that mantle has been passed to another World Food Prize Laureate, Dr. Ejeta, who was born in extremely poor circumstances in remote Ethiopia and who rose to become one of the most distinguished plant scientists in the world,” said Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. “The World Food Prize Council of Advisors was unanimous in choosing him to lead this most critical function of the World Food Prize Foundation — selecting the annual Laureate.”

Ejeta won the World Food Prize in 2009 for developing sorghum hybrids resistant to drought and the parasitic Striga weed. His work increased the production and availability of one of the world’s five principal grains, enhancing the food supply of hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. He also was credited with fostering economic development through his creation of agricultural enterprises to empower and educate subsistence farmers in rural Africa.

Ejeta is a distinguished professor at Purdue University and serves as executive director of the Purdue Center for Global Food Security.

“It is a great honor and an awesome responsibility to be named a successor to Norman Borlaug and M. S. Swaminathan as the new chair of the World Food Prize Selection Committee,” Ejeta said. “I accept the confidence and trust bestowed upon me by the Council of Advisors with absolute humility.”

Quinn paid special tribute to Swaminathan for his decade-long service as chair of the Laureate Selection Committee.

“Borlaug and Dr. Swaminathan — who represent the vanguard of the Green Revolution and two of the most innovative agricultural scientists ever to have lived — gave the World Food Prize a status and prestige that could not have been obtained in any other way,” he said. “Dr. Swaminathan’s extraordinary leadership carried on Dr. Norman Borlaug’s legacy and created a standard of excellence reflected in the Laureates he chose.”

The 2018 winner of the World Food Prize will be announced at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., U.S. on June 25. Awarded by the World Food Prize Foundation, the Prize has been referred to as the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture” and is the most prominent global award recognizing an individual who has enhanced human development and confronted hunger by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

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