Lutheran agriculturalist wins prize for Africa food research

By agency reporter
July 21, 2009

Dr Gebisa Ejeta, a professor of agronomy at Purdue University in the United States, has been named the recipient of the World Food Prize for his vital research on sorghum plants in his native Africa – writes Carrie L. Draeger.

Considered the ‘Nobel Prize of agriculture’, the award is given to people who have improved the “quality, quantity or availability or food in the world,” according to the World Food Prize Foundation.

Ejeta and his family are members of Our Saviour Lutheran Church, West Lafayette, Indiana, where they have worshipped since 1984. Our Saviour is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Ejeta was born in Ethiopia, where he received his bachelor’s degree in plant science at Alemaya College, Alemaya, Ethiopia, in 1973. He earned his master’s degree in 1976 and doctorate in 1978 in plant breeding and genetics in from Purdue. He has spent his career advancing the production and availability of sorghum. The grain helps to feed more than 500 million people in Africa.

The award was announced recently in Washington DC by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack and Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation.

The official ceremony and award of US$250,000 will be made on 15 October 2009 at the Iowa state capitol, Des Moines.


Carrie L. Draeger is a senior communication major with a concentration in journalism at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington State. She is an intern with the ELCA News Service.

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