Ethiopian Scientist Named 2009 World Food Prize Laureate

Farmer Gene

The 2009 World Food Prize is awarded to Dr. Gebisa Ejeta of Ethiopia, whose sorghum hybrids resistant to drought and the devastating Striga weed have dramatically increased the production and availability of one of the world’s five principal grains and enhanced the food supply of hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. Gebisa Ejeta will receive the $250,000 World Food Prize on October 15 at the Iowa State Capitol. 

Ejeta entered Purdue in 1974, earning his Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics. He later became a faculty member at Purdue, where today he holds a distinguished professorship. 

By partnering with leaders and farmers across sub-Saharan Africa and educational institutions in the U.S. and abroad, Dr. Ejeta has personally trained and inspired a new generation of African agricultural scientists that is carrying forth his work. 

Dr. Ejeta’s scientific breakthroughs in breeding drought-tolerant and Striga-resistant sorghum have been combined with his persistent efforts to foster economic development and the empowerment of subsistence farmers through the creation of agricultural enterprises in rural Africa. 

He has led his colleagues in working with national and local authorities and nongovernmental agencies so that smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs can catalyze efforts to improve crop productivity, strengthen nutritional security, increase the value of agricultural products, and boost the profitability of agricultural enterprise – thus fostering profound impacts on lives and livelihoods on broader scale across the African continent.

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