Gilbert arap Bor isn't afraid to speak up. He says farmers in the developing world must participate in the global economy by embracing and using new technologies. As a smallholder farmer in Kenya, he draws from personal experience, knowing what it's like to make ends meet in a developing world. He has seen first-hand how other farmers around the world have access to technologies like biotechnology that allow them to be more economically viable and more productive than all other forms of farming now practiced in Kenya.
"Kenyan farmers must participate in the global economy by embracing and using new technologies, including those concerned with seed development. They must not be left behind by political talk," says Bor. "They should be participating in producing enough food for their people's consumption, among other crops that improve their economy."
Gilbert's willingness to speak out on behalf of developing world farmers whose voice often goes unheard, led to his selection as the 2011 recipient of the Kleckner Trade and Technology Advancement Award.
This annual award, given during World Food Prize week, recognizes vision
The Kleckner Award, given by the Truth About Trade and Technology (TATT) organization, recognizes a global farmer who exemplifies "strong leadership, vision and resolve in advancing the rights of all farmers to choose the technology and tools that will improve the quality, quantity and availability of agricultural products around the world." The award is presented each year during World Food Prize week in Des Moines, Iowa.
Gilbert and his family do small-scale dairy and crop farming on 25 acres of land in Kapsaret, located in the North Rift Valley, which is the "Bread Basket" of Kenya. They grow maize, vegetables and fodder, producing enough to feed their family and sell the surplus in available markets to feed other Kenyans.
In addition to his farm, Gilbert works as a faculty member of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Eldoret, Kenya. In this role, Gilbert is working to establish a Center for Food Security and Enterprise Development on the university campus. "I understand the urgent need to deal with food security in Africa" says Bor. "I feel I have a very central role to play, both as an educator and as a farmer."
Kenyan government will soon allow the planting of biotech crops
Though he would like to, Bor has not yet been able to start growing genetically modified or biofortified crops since the government in Kenya has not allowed the release of GM seeds to Kenyan farmers. But that will change very soon. Kenya passed the Biosafety Act of 2009.
Gilbert states that "this ushers into the country a new era of technology advancement for agricultural production. The law now paves the way for Kenya to undertake commercial production of genetically modified crops."
Bor received the Kleckner Trade & Technology Advancement Award on October 11 in Des Moines, Iowa at the Global Farmer Awards Dinner hosted by CropLife International. The Kleckner Trade & Technology Advancement Award was established in 2007 in honor of Dean Kleckner, chairman of TATT. Kleckner is a retired farmer from northeast Iowa who served seven two-year terms as president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Before becoming AFBF president, he was president of the Iowa Farm Bureau for 10 years.
The Kleckner award is given annually in conjunction with the TATT Global Farmer Roundtable which is held in Des Moines the same week as the World Food Prize symposium. Previous award recipients are Rosalie Ellasus of the Philippines in 2007; Jeff Bidstrup of Australia in 2008; Jim McCarthy of Ireland in 2009 and Gabriela Cruz of Portugal in 2010.