Honoring Innovation in the Quest for Food Security

According to Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of The World Food Prize Foundation, "The greatest challenge that humans face is whether we can sustainably feed the nine billion people who will be on planet by 2050." With food security a central focus of both the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda, it is no wonder that the winner of this year's Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application was Dr. Charity Mutegi.

A 38-year-old Kenyan scientist, Dr. Mutegi helped combat aflatoxin, a naturally occurring yet highly carcinogenic mold, which can contaminate stored grain as well as milk or meat if livestock have consumed this toxic grain. But beyond Dr. Mutegi's scientific research, which she conducted after a deadly outbreak killed over 125 people in eastern Kenya in 2004-05, what is equally impressive is her role as an educator. Her educational campaigns have already enabled over 46,000 farmers to manage aflatoxin.

"You can have a great breakthrough dealing with seeds, soil treatments, curing diseases, and so on," Ambassador Quinn told The InterDependent, "but only when you have the ability to get it out into the hands of people does it become effective."

The Borlaug Award is given in conjunction with the World Food Prize, which in October was conferred upon Dr. Marc Van Montagu, Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton and Dr. Robert T. Fraley--three scientists who made major breakthroughs in agricultural biotechnology. In an interview with The InterDependent, Dr. Mutegi discussed her remarkable achievements and the impact this research will have on the MDGs and post-2015 framework.

(To read the full interview, please visit The InterDependent.)