The World Food Prize Foundation

UPDATED: 2009 Laureate Ejeta given nation's highest honor by Ethiopian President, meets with Prime Minister


UPDATED November 18, 2009 - 2009 Laureate Ejeta receives Ethiopia's highest honor, meets with Ethiopian President and Prime Minister

Dr. Ejeta in Wollonkomi, Ethiopia
Dr. Gebisa Ejeta meets with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi


UPDATED November 18, 2009 - - Less than a month after receiving the 2009 World Food Prize, Dr. Gebisa Ejeta has received his home country's highest honor.

Ethiopia’s President, H.E. Ato Girma Woldegiorgis has awarded Dr. Ejeta the National Hero Award, the first time the nation's highest honor has been given to an Ethiopian for work in science and technology.

According to the Africa Science News Service, President Ato Girma Woldegiorgis called Ejeta, “an Ethiopian champion whose prize is a commitment to others.”

“Through much of our history, we have made scientific discoveries. With this recognition of Dr Gebisa, we reclaim that history,” said President Woldegiorgis.

In response to the National Hero Award, Dr. Ejeta announced that he will use his $250,000 World Food Prize to establish an educational foundation aimed at assisting Ethiopian and other African children.

Africa Science News Service reports that Ejeta was visibly moved by his country’s honor. “To receive from my country the highest recognition any Ethiopian can receive is overwhelming,” said Dr. Ejeta. “All other recognitions I have received I have taken on behalf of the causes I have served. But I am happy to take this particular recognition personally.”

More on the National Hero Award available via ILRI.

Earlier on his return trip to Ethiopia, Dr. Ejeta met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who pledged his support to help Dr. Ejeta strengthen Ethiopia's agricultural sector.

From Ethiopian news agency Walta Information Center:

"Prime Minster Meles Zenawi here on Wednesday held discussion with Laureate Gebisa Ejeta, winner of the 2009 World Food Prize. Meles expressed happiness over the outstanding success of Prof. Gebisa and said that the prize is an honor and pride for Ethiopian researchers.

"The premier confirmed that the government will provide the necessary support to Prof. Gebisa in his efforts to enhance the agriculture sector in Ethiopia. Prof. Gebisa on his part said the prize is a result of Ethiopian and African researchers.

"He said Ethiopia, though a poor country, has allocated a significant amount of budget for the agricultural sector compared with other countries. However, he said a lot should be done in disseminating research outputs to farmers.

"He also expressed commitment to serve his country as well as African farmers to change the livelihood of the farmers. Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Tefera Deribew also said the premier discussed with prof. Gebissa on ways to disseminate research outputs and expand results of researches."

Dr. Ejeta received the World Food Prize on October 15 at the Iowa State Capitol, becoming the second African to receive the award.


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