The World Food Prize Foundation announced today that Dr. Gebisa Ejeta, 2009 World Food Prize Laureate, has assumed the position of Chair of the Laureate Selection Committee.
As chair, Dr. Ejeta will direct the annual selection of the World Food Prize Laureate. Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, said that Dr. Ejeta’s remarkable achievements have prepared him to assume this prestigious role.
In the 32 year history of the World Food Prize Foundation, only two individuals had ever served as the Chair of the Laureate Selection Committee: The first was Dr. Norman E. Borlaug himself from 1986 until 2008, when he was succeeded by Dr. M.S. Swaminathan of India, the first World Food Prize Laureate and Dr. Borlaug’s closest collaborator in inaugurating the Green Revolution.
“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 Amb. 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.”
Amb. Quinn paid special tribute to Dr. Swaminathan for his decade-long service heading the 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. Dr. Swaminathan’s extraordinary leadership carried on Dr. Norman Borlaug’s legacy and created a standard of excellence reflected in the Laureates he chose,” Amb. Quinn said.
Dr. Ejeta won the World Food Prize in 2009 for developing sorghum hybrids resistant to drought and the parasitic Striga weed. His work dramatically 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. Furthermore, his creation of agricultural enterprises to empower and educate subsistence farmers in rural Africa has fostered economic development.
Currently, Dr. Ejeta holds a distinguished professorship 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,” said Dr. Ejeta. “I accept the confidence and trust bestowed upon me by the Council of Advisors with absolute humility.”