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Gebisa Ejeta

Position: 

Scientist

Ejeta, Gebisa was born on June 1, 1949 in Wollonkomi, Shoa, After the eighth grade, he was accepted into Jimma Agricultural and Technical School in Ethiopia, which had been established by OSU under the US government’s Point Four Program (now USAID). After graduating with distinction, Ejeta entered Alemaya College (also established by OSU) in eastern Ethiopia. During primary school, Ejeta planned to study engineering when he reached college age. However, his mother convinced him he could do more working in agriculture. With assistance from the Oklahoma State University, he attended an agricultural and technical secondary school in Ethiopia, and also studied at what is now Haramaya University. The university and the U.S. Agency for International Development helped him earn a doctorate from Purdue University. Upon completing his graduate degree at Purdue University, Dr. Ejeta accepted a position as a sorghum researcher at the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) office in Sudan. His dedication to helping poor farmers feed themselves and their families and rise out of poverty propelled his work in leveraging the gains of his hybrid breeding breakthrough. OSU’s investment in building capacity in Higher Education in Ethiopia is a philosophy Dr. Ejeta has embraced. By partnering with leaders and farmers across sub-Saharan Africa and educational institutions in the U.S. and abroad, Dr. Ejeta has personally trained and inspired a new GENERATION of African agricultural scientists who are carrying forth his work.

He is now Ethiopian American plant breeder, geneticist and Professor at Purdue University .In 2009, he won the World Food Prize for his major contributions in the production of sorghum.

Working in Sudan during the early 1980s, Ejeta developed Africa's first commercial hybrid variety of sorghum tolerant to drought. Later, with a Purdue University colleague in Indiana, he discovered the chemical basis of the relationship between the deadly parasitic weed striga and sorghum, and was able to produce sorghum varieties resistant to both drought and striga.

On 2011 President Barack Obama appointed GebisaEjeta as Member, Board for International Food and Agricultural Development.

Dr. Gebisa Ejeta received the 2009 World Food Prize for his sorghum hybrids that are resistant to drought and the devastating weed, Striga. His work dramatically increased the production and availability of the food supply for hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. 

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