Purdue's initiative builds upon the university's wide range of expertise in food production, protection, preservation and economics as well as related areas such as climate change, energy, and environmental and natural resources. It also reflects Purdue's land-grant mission of learning, discovery and engagement.
The center will draw on leadership of faculty, staff and students from colleges and schools across the university's campus and will support initiatives of Purdue's Global Policy Research Institute involving agriculture, the environment and the economy.
Purdue's interest in the issue of global food security was demonstrated at a February 2010 conference during which more than 70 faculty members from Purdue discussed how the university should position itself to help fight global hunger.
The center is planning additional programs to raise awareness about the issue of food security and to find solutions. A lecture series begins April 4, featuring Roger Thurow, senior fellow for global agriculture and food policy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. As a Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent, Thurow and colleague Scott Kilman in 2003 wrote a Pulitzer Prize-finalist series of stories on famine in Africa. They are authors of the book "Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty."
The lecture will be at Fowler Memorial House, 1200 W. State St. on campus, starting at 7 p.m. The first 100 people to arrive for the lecture will receive a free copy of the book.
"We find ourselves at a moment of great opportunity in the battle against hunger, and we dare not squander it," Thurow said. "It is time to raise the clamor and make ending hunger through agriculture development the great populist cause of this decade."
The center also will host an international workshop of scientists May 23-24 to begin a pilot project aimed at improving a global, open-source database for analysis of agriculture, land use and the environment.
A website for the center has been established at http://www.purdue.edu/dp/food
|Gebisa Ejeta, director of the Purdue Center for Global Food Security, surrounded by a crop of sorghum. (Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/Tom Campbell)|
Ejeta, a native of Ethiopia, received the 2009 World Food Prize for his work in developing sorghum varieties resistant to drought and the parasitic weed Striga. His research dramatically increased the production and availability of sorghum for hundreds of millions of people in Africa, where it is a major crop. Sorghum is among the world's five principal grains.
Ejeta is Purdue's second World Food Prize laureate. Philip E. Nelson received the award in 2007 for his aseptic processing innovation. The system revolutionized food trade by reducing postharvest waste and making seasonal fruits and vegetables available year-round and easier to transport worldwide.
Ejeta in September was appointed a science envoy for the U.S. State Department. Science envoys collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create "green" jobs, digitize records, clean water and grow new crops in developing countries.