News Archive

posted 06/15/04

Earth Institute Scientist Awarded for Revolutionary Contributions to Soil Research

Pedro Sanchez speaking at the State of the Planet conference

Dr. Pedro Sanchez speaking at the State of the Planet conference, April 2004. Photo credit: Bruce Gilbert

The University of Guelph, a renowned research institution in Canada, has awarded Pedro Sanchez, Director of Tropical Agriculture at the Earth Institute, an honorary Doctor of Science for his breakthrough research in tropical soils.

"We at the Department of Land Resource Science at the University of Guelph are particularly proud to have a soil scientist recognized for his ground breaking work to combat hunger using science for society," says Professor Peter van Straaten, who has studied rocks and soils in East Africa during the past twenty-five years. "Pedro Sanchez is a remarkable campaigner against world hunger, and a passionate advocate for improving the livelihoods of rural communities in developing countries."

Pedro Sanchez, a native of Cuba, started his career after receiving his Ph.D. from Cornell University by undertaking seminal research in Peru and Brazil. He challenged the widespread belief that tropical soils are unproductive by developing alternative management systems for resource-poor farmers, first in South America and then in Africa. The research in Africa led to a major breakthrough in sustainable farming practices, and a way out of poverty for thousands of poor landowners. His thoughtful, culturally-sensitive and science-based approach, using locally available natural resources and appropriate cropping systems, revolutionized the farming practices of more than 150,000 small-scale farmers in East Africa and provided them with food security.

In addition to receiving this honorarium, Sanchez plans to address graduands at the Ontario Agricultural College ceremony and meet with various researchers and interviewers at the University, and with the University of Guelph president Alastair Summerlee.

Sanchez's lecture, "Hunger and Soil Fertility in Africa," will be part of the The National Agricultural Biotechnology Council (NABC), being hosted by the University Of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Sanchez's lecture it on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 at 7pm in the Arboretum Centre at the University of Guelph.

Sanchez received the 2002 World Food Prize – considered by some as the “Nobel Prize for food and agriculture” – and was appointed as chair of the United Nations Millennium Project Task Force on World Hunger. In 2003, he was named a MacArthur Fellow. His book, Properties and Management of Soils in the Tropics, has become a standard reference tool.

The Earth Institute at Columbia University is the world’s leading academic center for the integrated study of Earth, its environment and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines – earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences – and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through its research, training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world’s poor.

The University of Guelph is renowned in Canada and around the world as a research-intensive and learner-centered institution and for its commitment to open learning, internationalism and collaboration.