Boniface Massawe, a doctoral student specializing in soil science in the School of Environment and Natural Resources and a Norman E. Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (LEAP) Fellow, will attend the World Food Prize events in Des Moines, Iowa, October 12-18, 2014. The World Food Prize honors outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food throughout the world. Eminent plant scientist, Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram, has been chosen as the recipient of this year’s 2014 World Food Prize for his achievements in wheat breeding technologies.
While at the World Prize events, Massawe will also participate in the Borlaug Dialog, which is inspired by Nobel Laureate and World Food Prize founder Dr. Norman Borlaug and the emphasis he placed on educating and developing the next generation of leaders in the fight against hunger. The 2014 Borlaug Dialogue international symposium brings together the top minds and foremost leaders in global agriculture, food and development. This year’s symposium theme is “The Greatest Challenge in Human History: Can we sustainably feed the 9 billion people on our planet by the year 2050?”
On his selection to attend the World Prize events, Massawe reflects, “Attending an event honoring those who have contributed to improve the world food supply is very touching to me. Although food shortage is not that serious in my country, as far as I can remember, we have never been assured that we will have enough food supply next season. This is because the yields are literally just enough to feed the families, while resisting temptations to sell the crop to hungry neighboring countries. Not being assured of food security is very much complicated by our reliability on rainfed agriculture. Rains are not that reliable any more in many parts of our country. Therefore, it is very exciting and motivational to see Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram, who has been selected to receive this year’s World Food Prize in honor of his scientific research that led to an increase in world wheat production by more than 200 million tons.”
Massawe is looking forward to the opportunity to meet and network with some of the top leaders in global agriculture and development at the event and especially meeting other Borlaug-LEAP Fellows from Africa to exchange ideas and experiences on different issues including research and training in agriculture.
“Participating in the Borlaug-LEAP dialogue will also give me an opportunity to share my views on how agricultural land use planning can contribute to food security in the developing world. I will also have an opportunity to hear from other participants and panelists,” Massawe said.
Boniface Massawe describing a soil profile in
Kilombero Valley, Tanzania (his study site).
Massawe's doctoral research intends to develop a crop (rice) suitability model using GIS and predictive soil mapping techniques in Tanzania’s Kilombero Valley. The Kilombero Valley is one of the largest seasonal wetlands in East Africa and the Tanzanian government, with technical and financial support from USAID, has targeted the Valley for increased rice production. His research is expected to contribute evidence-based knowledge needed to make informed decisions on land resource usability as well as sustainability for rice crops.
Massawe is advised by Brian Slater, assistant director and associate professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources. Massawe’s research is funded by innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI), a project under USAID sponsored Feed the Future Program. iAGRI is under the International Programs in Agriculture (IPA), in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Massawe also has additional research funds from Borlaug - LEAP fellowship, which enabled additional field trips and training and collaboration with CIAT in Nairobi.
Shown in photos: Boniface Massawe. Photos courtesy of Brian Slater.