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June 20, 2009

Sorghum varieties discovered by Ethiopian scientist register commendable results

The Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said it has distributed and gained reliable results from two drought and weed-resistant varieties of sorghum discovered by Ethiopian scientist, Professor Gebisa Ejeta. The professor was recently named as the winner of the 2009 World Food Prize.

State Minister of MoARD, Dr. Abera Deresa said one of the species called Abshir is being produced in a large scale in Shire, Tigray State. The pilot project of the other species called Gubeye in Wollo area of Amhara State registered positive results in withstanding diseases. Currently the variety is being distributed to other areas of the country, Dr. Abera said.

The minister, who was earlier head of Melkassa Agricultural Research Center, recalled that Gebisa was working on a number of researches that have solved problems of Ethiopian farmers.

Sorghum, which is staple food for people living in Eastern and NorthEast part of the country, had been repeatedly destroyed by weed called Striga (“Akenchera”)and caused food shortage to the people .

Earlier on the ministry in collaboration with national research instituions recognized the professor for his findings. Before a year and half the species were distributed and produced in large scale in Tigray State, Wollo, East and West Hararge zones.

The researcher has discovered many other sorghum species in Sudan as the weed has been affecting the plant.The professor also made similar researches in West Africa and his discoveries are being made use of in other parts of the world exposed to food shortage.

Though there are some unproved reports saying professor Gebisa is the second African to win the award, the minister said professor Gebisa is in fact the first African for the award, which is recognized by US State Department.

The researcher will receive the 250,000 USD award on October 15 in a ceremony, which will be organized by the World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines, Iowa.

Professor Gebisa, 59, a faculty member at Purdue University in the Midwestern U.S. state of Indiana, joined the university faculty in 1984.

President of the foundation, former U.S. ambassador to Cambodia Kenneth Quinn, said Gebisa's work with sorghum has benefited millions of people in Africa and beyond.

Ethiopian Review

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