Last week, 40 Borlaug Fellows from 21 countries as far away as Azerbaijan and Zambia were in Des Moines, Iowa, to attend the Borlaug International Symposium and World Food Prize ceremony. Accompanying them were 16 mentors—professors, scientists, and researchers—from U.S. land-grant universities and international research centers, as well as public, private, and non-profit organizations. These Fellows and their mentors are part of the Norman E. Borlaug Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program established by USDA in 2004 to honor Nobel Laureate Norman E. Borlaug.
Dr. Sri Yuliani was among the Fellows on this trip. Back in Indonesia, Dr. Yuliani is a researcher with the Agriculture Ministry’s Center for Agricultural Post Harvest Research and Development. She has been studying micro-encapsulation and food fortification at Purdue University. Of her experiences, Dr. Yuliani said, “I am very grateful for this opportunity to have access to nanotechnology facilities through the Borlaug Fellows Program.” She also recognized her mentor, Dr. M. Fernanda San Martin-Gonzalez, for his expert guidance.
Other Borlaug Fellows in this group are studying topics ranging from water management to soil science to alternative energy resources. They know that the world needs new ideas and innovations to cope with the earth’s changing climate and the concerns arising from it, such as a lack of water, poor soil, and loss of biodiversity. The Borlaug Fellows Program helps to address these issues through the dissemination of cutting-edge agricultural research and scientific techniques. Upon returning home, the Fellows will be better able to advance their countries’ agricultural sectors and contribute to sustainable development and productivity.
Since 2006, USDA has been bringing Borlaug Fellows to Des Moines for the annual Borlaug Symposium and World Food Prize. During their visit, the Fellows met and heard current and former World Food Prize Laureates, international experts, policy leaders, and high-level officials from U.S. and foreign governments address the important agricultural issues facing our world today.
This year’s Laureates—former President of Ghana John Agyekum Kufuor and former President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva—were recognized on October 14 for their independent, personal commitment and visionary leadership in creating and implementing policies targeting the alleviation of hunger and poverty in their countries. On October 12, President Kufuor addressed the Fellows at a seminar to discuss the challenges of natural resource management for smallholder farmers on marginal lands. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also spoke to the Fellows and moderated a roundtable discussion with African agriculture ministers on October 13.
By providing the Borlaug Fellows with the opportunity to attend these events, USDA seeks to inspire them in their future endeavors in the hope that someday one will receive the World Food Prize too.