World Food Prize 2016 - Reflections (Part III)

"I was surrounded by knowledge: international leaders, policymakers and farmers; executives from agribusiness and non-governmental organizations… who addressed critical issues facing global food security," Irene Kargbo, Ohio State University

Irene Kargbo is a second-year Ph.D. candidate at Ohio State University. A native of Liberia, Irene has focused her study thus far in the area of entomology.

First of all, I would like to thank BHEARD for giving me the opportunity to attend the World Food Prize. This conference was a very enriching experience and it gave me the opportunity to explore many issues in regards to food security. I was also able to learn more about Dr. Norman Borlaug’s contribution during this 30th anniversary of his establishment of the World Food Prize.

I was surrounded by knowledge: international leaders, policymakers and farmers; executives from agribusiness and non-governmental organizations as well as scientific, academic and development experts who addressed the most critical issues facing global food security. Seminars and discussions were led by luminaries such as Dr. Joyce Banda, former president of Malawi; Dr. Jim Yong Kim, president, World Bank Group; and Akinwumi A. Adesina, president, African Development Bank Group. It was so exciting to see this year’s Laureates – Drs. Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga, Jan Low and Howarth Bouis – being honored and officially awarded the World Food Prize at the Laureate Award Ceremony on October 13.

The networking opportunities with BHEARD fellows and peers from all over the world were tremendous. It was a wonderful opportunity to gather together, interact and exchange their findings and views during conference sessions, coffee breaks and conference dinner – and to hear about so many ongoing projects. Consequently, I have gotten to know a number of academics and professionals from different countries who have similar research interests such as developing products to benefit the farmers.

At the end of the conference, I was more equipped to face the challenges to fight hunger in my country Liberia. I would like to take this chance to reflect upon my enriching experiences, and was especially inspired by Norman Borlaug’s famous quote “take it to the farmer.” This reminded me of what I have to do after studies: develop fungal pesticides to control stem borers on rice in Liberia so that resource-poor farmers can increase yields and incomes, and simultaneously improve agricultural production.  

Finally, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to USAID for providing the funds to support my attendance at the World Food Prize. The experience was truly fantastic. You cannot afford to miss any of the World Food Prize conferences if you are a hunger fighter.

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