Gebisa Ejeta Accepts Food Prize Award

Above: Gebisa Ejeta, right, winner of the 2009 World Food
Prize, is congratulated by Samuel Assefa of Ethiopia after
Ejeta’s remarks Friday at the World Food Prize luncheon.
(Photo by Christopher Gannon/ The Register.).

Source: The World Food Prize
The World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony is held in the magnificent Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines. The ceremony rivals that of the Nobel Prize, drawing over 800 people from more than 65 countries.

Each year, world-class performers take the stage to honor the World Food Prize Laureate. Past performers have included Ray Charles, John Denver and Kathak Gunjan. Following the Ceremony, the celebration continues at the Laureate Award Dinner, held in the Capitol rotunda.

The 2009 Laureate Award Ceremony was held on Thursday, October 15, 2009.

Ethiopian American Named 2009 World Food Prize Laureate

Above: “A Purdue University Professor has received the World
Food Prize, an honor that is considered by many to be the Nobel
Prize of agriculture.” (WLFI) – The 2009 World Food Prize was
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

Dr. Ejeta’s personal journey would lead him from a childhood in a one-room thatched hut in rural Ethiopia to the height of scientific acclaim as a distinguished professor, plant breeder, and geneticist at Purdue University. His work with sorghum, which is a staple in the diet of 500 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa, began in Ethiopia in the 1970s. Working in Sudan in the early 1980s, he developed Hageen Dura-1, the first ever commercial hybrid sorghum in Africa. This hybrid variety was tolerant to drought and out-yielded traditional varieties by up to 150 percent.

Dr. Ejeta next turned his attention to battling the scourge of Striga, a deadly parasitic weed which devastates farmers’ crops and severely limits food availability. Working with a colleague at Purdue University, he discovered the biochemical basis of Striga’s relationship with sorghum, and was able to produce many sorghum varieties resistant to both drought and Striga. In 1994, eight tons of Dr. Ejeta’s drought and Striga-resistant sorghum seeds were distributed to Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Yield increases were as much as four times the yield of local varieties, even in severe drought areas.

“By ridding Africa of the greatest biological impediment to food production, Dr. Ejeta has put himself in the company of some of the greatest researchers and scientists recognized by this award over the past 23 years,” said Vilsack. “The Obama Administration is inspired by the tireless efforts of Dr. Ejeta has demonstrated in the battle to eliminate food insecurity and is committed to employing a comprehensive approach to tackle the scourge of world hunger.”

Dr. Gebisa Ejeta

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.

“Dr. Ejeta’s accomplishments in improving sorghum illustrate what can be achieved when cutting-edge technology and international cooperation in agriculture are used to uplift and empower the world’s most vulnerable people,” added Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, founder of the World Food Prize. “His life is as an inspiration for young scientists around the world.”

The 2009 World Food Prize will be formally presented to Dr. Ejeta at a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol on October 15, 2009. The ceremony will be held as part of the World Food Prize’s 2009 Borlaug Dialogue, which focuses on “Food, Agriculture and National Security in a Globalized World.” Further information about the Laureate Award Ceremony and Symposium can be found at

Clinton Speaks at 2009 World Food Prize Announcement Ceremony

13 Responses to “Gebisa Ejeta Accepts Food Prize Award”

  1. 1 Sened Oct 16th, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    A remarkable day not only for Ethiopia but for the whole of African continent.. The winer of World Food Prize, (equvalent to Nobel prize) is an African born American.

  2. 2 koster Oct 17th, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    First of all, I congratulate Professor Ejeta for his achievement. If he was in Ethiopia, he would have been “eliminated” like the other Purdue Aluminai and brilliant scientist Dr Dagnatchew Yirgou.

    I hope Dr Ejeta will use his knowledge and connection to contribute more in the fight against tyrany and poverty in Ethiopia. Although you know better what you should do, I recommend or suggest that you revitalize the WOLENKOMI Rural Development Project which was started some years ago by Shell.

    I wish you great success in your future endeavor.

    One of your admirers and graduate of JIA (formerly JATS) and ACA.

  3. 3 Endalkachew Oct 19th, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Congratulations Professor. Your research benefits and serves the globe and humanity. And I am always proud when a fellow Ethiopian and African achieves such an extraordinary honor. Job well done and much luck in all your future endeavors.


  4. 4 Messay Oct 19th, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Excellent job Professor, I’m sure every single African will be proud of you. Keep up the good work.

  5. 5 Tilaye Bekele Oct 24th, 2009 at 3:18 am

    Professor Gebisa may I congratulate you for this great achievement. I had chance as freshman in Alemaya to witness your outstanding performances in your studies and extra curricular activities (not to mention the basket ball); it is then that your personality for such great milestones are envisaged.

    Dear Professor Gebisa I believe your award would contribute to conquering the picture and reality of our food hungry country – Ethiopia.

  6. 6 Ted Seifu Oct 24th, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Dear Professor:

    What an encouragement to us here in US that we are entrusted to train and help our children to succeed in academics. I have just watched it with my 13 year old son. He immediately said, I would like to meet this professor. Hope, I will manage to get a hold of you before he starts high school to see you. May God continue to bless you and use your knowledge to serve others.

    Thank you
    Ted Seifu, Gaithersberg, MD

  7. 7 Hadas Abrham (VA) Oct 24th, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    I am proud of Profesor Ejeta for his great contribution in developing this new agriculture product to Ethiopia and Africa. Keep it up. We need more productive brains like him. No more talking, we need action……………all the best………….

  8. 8 LAKEW BELAINEH Oct 24th, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Dear Prof.Ejeta G.
    I am proud of you. It is a great success and achievement. Let God bless you. You have shown the World who we are. Thanks.

  9. 9 Elleni Oct 28th, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Prof Ejeta,

    Congratulations, you are inspirational.
    Thank you !

  10. 10 Tsgereda Gebregziabher Nov 4th, 2009 at 10:50 am

    What a wonderful job you have done. You are a great inspiration to all of us. Thank you.

  11. 11 Fekede Feyissa Nov 17th, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Dear Prof. Gebisa

    You have demonstrated that Ethiopia, one of the poorest country in the world has citizens with stamina to become a global image like you. I am highly proud of you and wish you and similar other citizens could strive to pave the way in which Ethiopia could be released from the vicious cycle of poverty.


  12. 12 Mfikadu from Adama University Feb 16th, 2010 at 2:36 am

    What a wonderful innovation!! God bless you and your family.

  13. 13 Berhanu Tamiru May 11th, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Prof. I am proud of you!

    You are our hero.

    From Ginch towm.

    Haramaya university plant pathology MSc student.

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