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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 4, 2004

World Food Prize Recipient To Discuss Ag Research In Africa

Monty Jones, a plant biologist and co-recipient of the 2004 World Food Prize, will discuss agricultural research in Africa in a lecture at the University of Iowa. "Promoting Health and Nurturing Hope Through Agricultural Research in Africa" will be Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 101 of Biology Building East. Admission is free and open to the public.

Jones will receive his World Food Prize two days later in a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Oct. 14.

Jones was selected a co-recipient of The World Food Prize for developing in the 1990s the "New Rice for Africa (NERICA)," uniquely adapted to the growing conditions of West Africa, by successfully crossing two separate strains to produce drought and pest resistant, high yielding new rice varieties. With the ability to resist weeds, survive droughts and thrive on poor soils gained from its African parent, and the trait of higher productivity from its Asian ancestor, NERICA is a crop capable of increasing farmers' harvests by up to 50 percent.

His accomplishment is already producing enhanced harvests for thousands and thousands of poor farmers, most of them women, with potential benefit for 20 million farmers in West Africa alone.

"Working in the most difficult environments, Dr. Jones led a pioneering effort to develop New Rice for Africa (NERICA)," said Ken Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. "In an unprecedented achievement, he recaptured the genetic potential of ancient African rices by combining African and Asian rice species, dramatically increasing yields, and offering great hope to millions of poor farmers as a catalyst for agricultural transformation in West Africa."

Born in Sierra Leone, Monty Jones began his career in 1975 working on research funded by the West Africa Rice Development Agency (WARDA), the Mangrove Swamp Rice Research Project. In 1991, Jones was appointed head of the Upland Rice Breeding Program at WARDA's headquarters in Cote d'Ivoire. It was in this position that he made his breakthrough achievement in combining Asian and African rice varieties to develop a new rice, uniquely suited to poor African rice farmers.

"We're pleased this great humanitarian and scientist will visit the university while he's in Iowa to receive his well-deserved honor," said UI President David Skorton. "His work is a wonderful inspiration and example of what science can accomplish when combined with a deep interest in doing good for humanity."

While at UI, Jones will also participate in a public symposium on the impact of science on global health and humanitarianism and meet with UI students who have spent time in Africa. The symposium will be from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 2117 in the Medical Research Facility.

Jones is a graduate of the University of Sierra Leone and received both his M.Sc. in Plant Genetic Resources and his Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

The World Food Prize ceremony in Des Moines will be held as part of The World Food Prize International Symposium, "From Asia to Africa: Rice, Biofortification and Enhanced Nutrition." Further information about the symposium will be available at www.worldfoodprize.org.

The lecture is sponsored by the UI Lecture Committee and the Office of the Vice President for Research.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010, tom-snee@uiowa.edu.