The 9th GCHERA World Agriculture Prize (WAP) Award Ceremony was held at Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU) on June 21st, 2022. Professor Marc Van Montagu of Ghent University in Belgium and Professor Mitiku Haile of Mekelle University in Ethiopia have been rewarded the prestigious prize in recognition of their exceptional achievements in talent training, scientific research and extension in agriculture and life sciences. The ceremony was held both offline and online, attended by faculty and students from agricultural universities and research institutes around the world.
Professor Chen Fadi, President of Nanjing Agricultural University, delivered a welcome speech. He stressed that the GCHERA WAP has become more professional and representative since its inception 10 years ago, with steadily growing popularity and influence. The WAP has propelled the development of higher agricultural education and science and technology, and become the bellwether of world agricultural science and education awards. It has successfully set up a platform for communication and cooperation, opened up a high-level dialogue forum and relevant cooperation mechanisms, and made numerous efforts to solve the above global challenges.
He proposed that in the future, the WAP should pay more attention to new progress in agricultural education and science and technology: first, focus more on new major scientific and technological problems and key development issues confronted by all mankind, and jointly tackle crucial challenges; second, put more emphasis on the exchange and mutual learning of global agricultural science and technology, foster closer partnership between relevant universities and scientific research institutes around the world, and jointly push forward the high-quality development of world agricultural science and education; third, pay closer attention to the cultivation of agricultural internationalization talents and the reform trend of international agricultural talent training in a timely manner, and provide a continuous source of excellent talents.
Lara Hanna, Chair of the WAP Jury, introduced the selection process of the 9th WAP. José Zaglul, President of GCHERA, announced and presented the achievements of the laureates. Emeritus Professor Marc Van Montagu, the laureate from Belgium, is the founder and chairman of VIB-International Plant Biotechnology Outreach at Ghent University, and the world-renowned founding father of plant biotechnology. As the World Food Prize laureate in 2013, he has been recognized for his marvelous accomplishments in the establishment, development and application of modern agricultural biotechnology. Professor Mitiku Haile, an Ethiopian Laureate, is a professor at the College of Dryland Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mekelle University, and the founder and first president of Mekelle University. He has long been engaged in soil science and sustainable land management, making great contributions to the construction of educational institutions, the development of human capacity building, and the sustainable development of the Tigray and other regions in Ethiopia.
Professor Pamela Ronald of the University of California, Davis, addressed the ceremony on behalf of previous laureates. She said that as the 2020 laureate, she would like to thank GCHERA and Nanjing agricultural university for setting up this important international prize. The prize not only recognizes individuals for their remarkable contributions to agriculture but also serves to inspire young scientists who are just beginning their careers and agricultural research and education.
Ma Shaojian, Vice President of Guangxi University, delivered a speech on behalf of partner institutions. He said that he would take the award ceremony as an opportunity to learn the stories and spirit of the two laureates, and cooperate with various institutions and experts of GCHERA to make contributions to promoting the development of agriculture and life sciences.
Song Weiping, CEO of Da Bei Nong International Group (DBN Group), said in his speech that Nanjing Agricultural University has been one of the comprehensive strategic partners of DBN Group. Both parties have, for more than 20 years, carried out extensive cooperation and achieved fruitful results in talent training, scientific research, product promotion, international cooperation and other fields. DBN Group hopes to forge closer ties with agricultural scientists from all over the wolrd to together boost global agricultural innovation and sustainable development.
After the award ceremony, Professor Marc Van Montagu and Professor Mitiku Haile shared their research stories with their global counterparts on the respective themes of “Lights on Plant/Soil-Biome Symbiosis” and “Community Based Natural Resources Management and Conservation in Tigray: A systematic review of interventions, impacts and challenges”.
The GCHERA World Agricultural Prize is an international award proposed and established by Nanjing Agricultural University on its 110th anniversary in 2012. It was then approved at the GCHERA steering committee in the same year. The Prize aims to encourage an individual academic/faculty member from a higher education institution in recognition of the academic/faculty member’ lifetime achievements s in education, research, innovation and outreach who work in the disciplines relating to the agricultural and life sciences - including but not limited to agriculture, forestry, natural resources, food, bio-based products, bioenergy, rural development and the environment. Each of the two recipients will receive $100,000, generously sponsored by the Education Development Foundation of NAU and DBN Group. Over the past ten years, twelve scientists from the United States, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Ghana, Chile and Ethiopia among others have been awarded the prize. At the same time, NAU has learnt from the operation experience of world-class scientific research awards and established the “WAP Open Fund”, encouraging any enterprise or individual who meets the criteria to make donations to jointly stimulate research and innovation in world agriculture and life sciences.