'Feed the world'

by Sam Harris

This summer, I had the opportunity to represent the World Food Prize Foundation as a 2014 Borlaug-Ruan International Intern.

According to their website, The World Food Prize is the “foremost international award recognizing — without regard to race, religion, nationality or political beliefs — the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

“The Prize recognizes contributions in any field involved in the world food supply — food and agriculture science and technology, manufacturing, marketing, nutrition, economics, poverty alleviation, political leadership and the social sciences.

“The World Food Prize emphasizes the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people. By honoring those who have worked successfully toward this goal, The Prize calls attention to what has been done to improve global food security and to what can be accomplished in the future.”

Each year, the WFP hosts a Global Youth Institute in Des Moines, Iowa, that promotes awareness about the emerging food security issues facing our nation and facing our world. Students from more than 24 states and six countries have the opportunity to engage in a small research project of their choice, focusing on resolving food insecurity in a developing country. During the GYI, students engage in expert discussions with industry leaders from all across the world.

In 2012, I had the opportunity to represent Arkansas at the GYI in Des Moines. From there, I was given the chance to apply for the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship. Upon applying, I was selected to advance to the next round of interviews, where I was chosen to serve for eight weeks in Jalna, Maharashtra, India.

While overseas, I conducted agricultural research at the Mahyco Hybrid Seed Company. Over the summer, I studied the existing farm extension services in the country of India and their effects on the perception and adoption of new agriculture practices by smallholder, rural farmers.

My summer in India was one of the most life-changing, inspirational experiences of my life. During my stay, I witnessed poverty and inequality firsthand and became aware of the emerging humanitarian crisis that will face my generation in the years to come. Traveling, alone, to one of the most diversely populated countries in the world forced me to develop my own independence and to take responsibility for fulfilling my part in feeding the world.

The Borlaug-Ruan Internship has inspired me to devote my professional life to the agriculture industry. Next fall, I will be attending the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville to major in agriculture business with a concentration in pre-law. From there, I hope to join the workforce in our nation’s capital to further my commitment to resolving global hunger and food insecurity. I hope that my experience in India and my passion to serve will allow me to represent the voices of smallholder farmers across the globe to promote positive increases in food production, storage and sustainability, while protecting the democratic way of life.

I am thankful for this amazing opportunity awarded to me through the World Food Prize Foundation, and I encourage anyone involved with agriculture education and the National FFA organization to get involved! There is plenty of unfinished business, and it will be up to our generation to feed the world.