A Purdue University professor who won the 2009 World Food Prize for helping prevent starvation in Africa is now overseeing a Purdue center that will draw on the school’s agricultural expertise to find new ways to combat global hunger.
Distinguished Professor of Agronomy Gebisa Ejeta is the director of the newly created Purdue Center for Global Food Security. The Journal & Courier of Lafayette reports that Ejeta has three goals for the center: engaging campus faculty for projects, providing global leadership and communicating the need for global food security.
“We can be a significant player,” he said.
Ejeta won the World Food Prize in 2009 for developing hybrid sorghum seeds that are resistant to drought and a parasitic weed. Crops grown from the seeds are credited with saving millions from starvation in Africa, including Ejeta’s native Ethiopia. the United Nations estimates that food production will have to double by 2050 to meet the demand of the world’s growing population. Ejeta said that food security is an issue for all countries.
“We have the most productive agriculture today, but if we don’t address issues — what we are producing for feed, for food, for fuel — if we don’t do that … in reality we could run out,” he said.
Paul Ebner, a Purdue assistant professor of animal sciences, said the campus’ students are interested in food security issues.
“It has gained a lot of attention with students here,” he said. “They want to be a part of finding solutions.”
The Purdue Center for Global Food Security is just one of many programs and foundations concerned about global food supplies. But Ejeta said he hopes the Purdue center will capitalize on the university’s relationship with governments, researchers, organizations and other groups to make a real difference.