THE 2009 WORLD FOOD PRIZE was awarded to Ethiopia native Dr. Gebisa Ejeta on October 15 at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. The ceremony took place during the 2009 Borlaug Dialogue, themed "Food, Agriculture and National Security in a Globalized World."
Dr. Ejeta was honored at a ceremony attended by dignitaries and experts from more than 60 countries. Dr. Ejeta was awarded the 2009 World Food Prize for the development of sorghum hybrids resistant to drought and the devastating Striga weed , which has dramatically increased the production and availability of one of the world’s five principal grains, and enhanced the food supply of hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa.
United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack read a congratulatory note to Dr. Ejeta from President Barack Obama and the ceremony included two very special performances honoring Dr. Ejeta's Ethiopian heritage, featuring Ethiopian pop star Chachi Tadesse, the Howard Gospel Choir, and Ethiopian-American dancers.
Miss Iowa 2009 Anne Michael Langguth also performed at the ceremony. The former Borlaug-Ruan International Intern played a stirring rendition of "Meditation" on violin.
The 2009 Laureate Award Ceremony came just over a month after the passing of World food Prize Dr. Norman Borlaug. Although Dr. Borlaug wasn't physically present, his spirit permeated the evening. His daughter, Jeanie Borlaug Laube, gave a powerful reading of the poem "In Any Language," and Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, announced that Dr. Borlaug's customary seat at the ceremony would forever remain empty in Dr. Borlaug's honor.
The Honorable Chet Culver, Governor of Iowa, presided over the ceremony. (See complete ceremony program)