October 20, 2012 – Emma at World Food Prize

After attending the Iowa World Food Prize symposium at Iowa State for students in Iowa, Emma was selected to be part of the Global Youth Institute as part of the World Food Prize activities.  Emma had a great few days where she was able to rub elbows with many global leaders working on food issues.  Her roommate was from Tanzania, she had lunch with the Mexican Undersecretary of Agriculture, and listened to many discussions and approaches to solving world hunger.

At the culmination of the youth portion of the conference, the students are broken up into groups of about 10, present their research papers to each other and an expert panel. In Emma’s case the panel included the grand-daughter of Normal Borlaug, currently serving at Texas A & M, and Dr. Surinder Vasal, 2000 World Food Prize Laureate.  After presenting their papers and answering question from the panel an other students, the students are tasked to find themes that run through the papers and come up with a three-minute presentation to the assembled students, their teachers, former Laureates and other international scientists and researchers.  They also select a spokesperson to speak on behalf of the group.  Not surprising to me, Emma’s gentle leadership led her to the podium to speak.

Emma with another student from her school that also was selected to speak for her group (not surprising as she is a veteran of two national speech competitions!)

Finally Emma greatly appreciated the words of this year’s laureate, Daniel Hillel, pioneer of micro drip irrigation (who refused monetary reward for his systems, designs, or techniques).  Emma called him a “Lovable Grandpa.”  Here are just a few comments from his address:

“My joy at receiving this award is tempered by the realization that the work it recognizes is far from complete. Despite all obstacles, there are already hopeful signs of progress. We must build upon and enhance these beginning in the interest of insuring long term harmony of the community of life in our one and only planet.”

“The Midwest is the breadbasket for the United States, for North America and it is in many ways the breadbasket of the world. It’s helping to feed the world and yet there is room for improvement. We must be concerned over our resources, the proper use of resources, the sustainable use of resources, the cooperative use of resources. We share the atmosphere, we share the oceans, we share water resources. We share the future of the world.”

For over 40 years, Dr. Hillel has sounded the alarm that climate change could reduce the amount of rainfall in already dry environments – warning of possible food shortages while developing innovations that help to feed a growing population.