2010 World Food Prize winners David Beckman, Jo Luck

Plans are being finalized for an annual gathering in Iowa of agricultural leaders from around the world. The 2010 World Food Prize events are scheduled for October 12th through the 15th in Des Moines.

Spokesperson Frank Swoboda says one of the highlights is the Borlaug Dialogue – a conference expected to draw more than 1,000 policymakers, researchers and other experts on food security. The theme for this year’s conference is “Take It to the Farmer: Reaching the World’s Smallholders.”

Swoboda says “smallholders” are poor farmers located in remote areas. “Typically, they’re farming from one to two acres. They’re predominantly women who live in very remote rural areas. They often have poor roads, poor infrastructure and very poor access to markets,” Swoboda said. The conference is named for Dr. Norman Borlaug, an Iowa native and Nobel Peace Prize winner who founded the World Food Prize in 1986.

Two of the participants in this year’s Borlaug Dialogue will include the ministers of agriculture for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Those are two countries where the livelihoods of small scale farmers are not just linked to how much food is produced, but really to the stability and security of rural communities,” Swoboda said. Other speakers will include former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who now chairs the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and Jeff Raikes, C.E.O. of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Swoboda says Warren Buffett’s son, Howard Buffett, will also take part in the Borlaug Dialogue. “What may be less known about him is that he himself is a farmer in Illinois,” Swoboda said. “His foundation, the Howard Buffett Foundation, has done a lot of work to really target a focus on farmers around the world. So, he’ll be talking about how he was drawn to that kind of work and what sort of experiences he’s had working with his counterparts in foreign countries.”

The 2010 World Food Prize will be presented this year to the leaders of two grassroots organizations that are battling worldwide hunger and poverty. David Beckmann of Bread for the World and Jo Luck of Heifer International will receive their awards during a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol on the evening of Thursday, October 14.