Updated: Thursday, 11 Jun 2009, 6:13 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 11 Jun 2009, 2:18 PM EDT
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - A Purdue University Professor has received the World Food Prize, an honor that is considered by many to be the Nobel Prize of agriculture.
Professor Gebisa Ejeta won the prize for his research, which led
to increased availability of sorghum in Africa. Sorghum is
one of the world's top cereal grains. Ejeta said he's honored
to receive the award.
"I'm overjoyed, I'm running out of adjectives when I talk to different people. It's a huge honor," said Ejeta.
Professor Ejeta's research led to the development of sorghum varieties that can stand up to drought and parasitic weeds, which are two of the most harmful environmental stresses on the grain. Ejeta said sorghum is the major food source for nearly 500 million people in Africa.
"It is a major staple in many places, just like soybean and corn are important around here. Sorghum in many places is important economically and also as a way of life and for people to live on as their food," said Ejeta.
Ejeta was born in Ethiopia, and said he knows what it's like to be hungry.
"Because I come from developing country where most of the people are poor and my family is poor, so the importance of agriculture is an experience I went through. Hunger is an experience I went through," said Ejeta.
Ejeta's sorghum varieties can be found in several countries across Africa, but he hopes they will spread even further.
"Anything that we can do to jumpstart the development process so
more and more could benefit from it will continue to be my
mission," said Ejeta.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Ejeta as the winner this afternoon in Washington D.C. Ejeta will receive $250,000 at an award ceremony on October 15th in Des Moines, Iowa.
This is the second time in three years that a Purdue Professor
has won the world food prize. Philip Nelson won in