This October, a record 16 Borlaug LEAP Fellows attended the World Food Prize events in Des Moines, Iowa. The event provides an opportunity for Borlaug LEAP Fellows to engage with other LEAP Fellows, USDA Borlaug Fellows and an array of development professionals.
“Attending the event for me was a career defining moment,” remarked Bernice Waweru, 2014 Borlaug LEAP Fellow. “It is the epitome of inspiration, Norman Borlaug’s legacy lives on ever more brightly at the World Food Prize events.”
As the “premier conference in the world on global agriculture”, the events feature the expertise and diverse perspectives of governmental leaders, policymakers, farmers, CEOs and executives from agribusiness, leaders of non-governmental organizations, and scientific, academic and development experts from around the world.
During the week-long events, Fellows attended the 167th Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) meeting, the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, the World Food Prize ceremony, a luncheon in their honor, and numerous side-events sponsored by agriculture and development organizations. This year’s World Food Prize recipient, Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram a researcher at CIMMYT, was honored for his achievements in wheat breeding technologies.
The Borlaug Award for Field Research, recognizing an individual under 40 for their science-based achievements in international agriculture, energized many of the Borlaug LEAP Fellows. This year’s recipient, Dr. Gram Govaerts’ story of leadership and research accomplishments and the fact that a Borlaug LEAP alumni, Dr. Charity Mutegi, won the award last year, was particularly encouraging for the Fellows.
For 2013 LEAP Fellow Boniface Massawe, Dr. Govaerts accomplishments were “a clear message that we young people should not perceive that leadership is a specialty of relatively older people.”
Networking is an important aspect of the events. The young scientists attending have the unique opportunity to interact with key agricultural professionals from all over the world. For many, sharing ideas with people they have only read about is a chance that has a profound affect on their professional lives.
Among the distinguished guests attending the events this year were Borlaug LEAP alumni, Dr. Gerardine Mukishimana, the recently named Minster of Agriculture and Animal Resources in Rwanda. Just two short years ago Dr. Mukishimana attended the World Food Prize events as a Borlaug LEAP Fellow. This year she was a featured speaker during a panel discussion on policy and partnerships in Africa.