Gebisa Ejeta, Distinguished Professor of Agronomy at Purdue University, was named the recipient of the World Food Prize for research leading to the increased production and availability of sorghum in his native Africa.
Ejeta, a plant breeder and geneticist, developed sorghum varieties resistant to drought and Striga, a parasitic weed. Sorghum is a major food crop for more than 500 million people on the African continent.
The World Food Prize is considered the Nobel Prize of agriculture. It is awarded each year by the World Food Prize Foundation to individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food worldwide. Norman E. Borlaug, winner of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize, established the World Food Prize in 1986.
The award announcement was made at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and World Food Prize Foundation President Kenneth Quinn. Ejeta will receive his $250,000 award at an Oct. 15 ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa.
Ejeta is the second Purdue professor to receive the World Food Prize in three years. Philip Nelson, the Scholle Chair Professor in Food Processing and former head of Purdue's Department of Food Science, won the award in 2007 for developing aseptic bulk storage and distribution, a technology for transporting processed fruits and vegetables without product spoilage.
Sorghum is among the world's five principal cereal grains. The crop is as important to Africa as corn and soybeans are to the United States.
More information about the World Food Prize Foundation and Prize is available at http://www.worldfoodprize.org