Coffman receives inaugural World Agriculture Prize
Throughout his 43-year career, Cornell University plant breeder Ronnie Coffman has sown seeds of scientific and social change across continents and generations.
Now his efforts are being recognized with the inaugural World Agriculture Prize, awarded by the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences (GCHERA), an organization that represents more than 600 universities worldwide.
As a rice breeder at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines in the 1970s, Coffman, helped one generation survive the ravages of war by ensuring food security throughout Southeast Asia.
As leader of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative – and the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development – he is helping another generation combat new strains of wheat rust that threaten to devastate world food supplies.
As the professor behind Cornell’s popular Agriculture in Developing Nations course, director of International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (IP-CALS), and organizer of Ph.D. training courses at the West African Center for Crop Improvement, he is mentoring the next generation of plant breeders and international development professionals.
“The world’s farmers need access to the best science that the many great institutions of GCHERA can deliver in order to produce crops that are nutritionally adequate and best adapted to future challenges,” Coffman said during his acceptance speech at Nanjing Agricultural University in China Oct. 20.
New technologies – including biotechnologies – must be made accessible to all the world’s farmers so that nutritionally superior seeds that are well-adapted to climate change are put in the hands of farmers with limited resources, he added.
Coffman also advocated for the advancement of women in agriculture and science, and he committed the $50,000 proceeds of the prize to AWARE (Advancing Women in Agriculture Through Research and Education), a new initiative to ensure that gender is considered in all IP-CALS activities, from events to funding proposals.
“Women hold the greatest potential to make significant impacts in rural development,” said Coffman. “Colleges of agriculture and life sciences need to empower women as future champions around the globe so they can become the entrepreneurs of their own future as well as the planet’s.”
- Ag markets decidedly mixed in Wednesday night action
- Nufarm signs partnership to develop plant monitoring technology
- ASFMRA’s California chapter introduces FarmIt program
- Farm Bureau: EPA must withdraw irregular, biased rulemaking
- Canadian companies to build nutrient recovery technology facility
- U.S. fertilizer company owned by Koch brothers in patent dispute
- Activists fighting Golden Rice even more in 2014
- U.S. GMO labeling foes triple spending in first half of this year
- Source shows half of GMO research is independent
- White House issues veto threat on bill to block WOTUS rule
- East-West Seed signs marketing collaboration with Monsanto
- How much corn can the ethanol industry use?