The World Food Prize and the Future of Agriculture

K. Humphrey 12/16/2011

The 2011 World Food Prize saw a congregation of world leaders, industry leaders, and some of the greatest minds in agriculture coming together to discuss the challenges facing the industry. Challenges such as water efficiency, land use, and how to feed a population that’s expected to hit 9 billion people by the year 2050.

While many differ on how to define the problem and what is necessary to solve it, everyone seems to agree the burden of finding the solutions lies on the shoulders of the next generation. This is why one very important group was in attendance at the World Food Prize – the Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug scholars.

In his speech at the opening of the Hall of Laureates, Hugh Grant, Monsanto president, chairman and CEO, said:

“We’re working on really complex challenges, but the reality of this is the next generation is going to carry a great deal of this. The next generation will be a great deal smarter on this. And the more young people I meet who are involved in agriculture, the more people I meet who are now becoming farmers, the more optimistic I become.”

The scholars in attendance, who are tackling some of these challenges already, are part of the Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program (MBBISP), a Ph.D. program concentrating on the improvement of rice and wheat breeding. The primary objective of this prestigious fellowship program is to develop highly educated rice and wheat plant breeders who can serve as future agricultural leaders.

With the challenges facing the world of agriculture, it is more important than ever that these great minds are given the opportunity to research better ways to feed this growing world.

“We have ideas of what to do and how to do it, but sometimes the money will be the problem,” H.B. Mahesh, a MBBISP scholar and Ph.D. student at University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) in Bangalore, India, said. “The financial assistance from this scholars program is greatly acknowledged. I'm very thankful to receive this prestigious fellowship and to have the chance to pursue this research.”

The next generation will shape the future of agriculture, and they need to be involved in the solution to feeding the world. The World Food Prize and the MBBISP is a great way to start the conversation.

“The World Food Prize is a great opportunity for students like myself,” Nitika Sandhu, a MBBISP scholar, said at the World Food Prize. “We can discuss the future of agriculture, and it helps us work to achieve new goals to eventually eliminate the various types of problems we are facing.” 

Applications for the Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program are being accepted between from November 1, 2011 to February 1, 2012.If you’re interested in learning more about the program please visit