source: ICRISAT newsletter
For their work on improving the nutritional qualities of sorghum for human consumption and for fodder and improving the cereal’s resistance to drought, diseases and pests, ICRISAT scientists Dr Eva Weltzien and Dr Fred Rattunde received the Justus-von-Liebig Award for World Nutrition 2015.
The Weltzien-Rattunde couple, jointly with their diverse project partners, made important contributions in the collection, evaluation and use of genetic diversity of local landraces for breeding purposes, the analysis of genotype by environment interactions as a prerequisite for the development of locally well-adapted base-populations, the improvement of plant nutrient acquisition and use efficiency, the development of new sorghum varieties with superior and stable yielding ability as well as resistance to the devastating parasitic weed Striga, the improvement of micronutrient concentrations in the grain to help reduce malnutrition, and the development of local seed systems.
Dr Eva and Dr Fred Weltzien-Rattunde receiving the Justus-von- Liebig Award for World Nutrition 2015. photo: ICRISAT
Their work was predominantly embedded in holistic, interdisciplinary programs in collaboration with partners from research institutes in developed countries as well as research and development.
In the area of participatory plant breeding, the couple is considered to be among the pioneers. The couple has more than 60 publications in international, peer-reviewed journals and books. The recipients of this prize are also recognized for their unusual engagement and resilience despite the threats from civil unrest and epidemics in West Africa. They have dedicated their entire careers to fight against hunger and poverty of smallholder farmers of West Africa and India. They are working together at ICRISAT, Mali, West Africa, as sorghum breeders since 1997.
The independent council of the Foundation unanimously awarded this prize to the Weltzien-Rattunde couple for their outstanding achievements in the agricultural and nutritional sciences, which contribute to improving world nutrition. They received the award, endowed with 25,000 Euro, during the World Food Day colloquium at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart on 16 October.