By Sarah Goellner
DES MOINES, Iowa — Past and current Borlaug Fellows and Laureates were welcomed to the World Food Prize conference on Wednesday with a luncheon overlooking downtown Des Moines on the 34th floor of the Ruan Building.
The 41 fellows are part of two organizations: The Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program and the Borlaug Fellowship Program. Both programs provide the participants with collaborative training, research opportunities and a mentor.
The University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, host of the event, invited Jeanie Borlaug Laube to speak about the impact of her father, Norman Borlaug, whom the programs are named after.
Laube recalled a time in her childhood when someone asked her when had she known her father was famous. She said she simply responded, “We never did.”
To her family and most of the developing world, Norman Borlaug was only doing what he felt he needed to do to help feed the hungry. Over his lifetime of work in agriculture, he is credited with saving more people than anyone else in history.
The fellows, from countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia and the Ukraine, all focus on aspects of food and agricultural production, like Borlaug. Although food security and hunger affected most of the fellows’ home countries, their research spanned a wide array of issues, such as trade liberalization and prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency. The scope of their curiosity and interest went beyond the concerns close to their homes, as became apparent when they talked about how the fellowship changed their lives and research. They sincerely thanked Laube, along with the laureates, for the opportunity to participate in the Borlaug Fellowship.
The mission that Borlaug set out on many years ago seemed to come full circle today as each fellow stood and described the place they call home and the research they are conducting there.