Sophomore Arjun Ganga Attends World Food Prize Global Youth Institute

Sophomore Arjun Ganga Attends World Food Prize Global Youth Institute

Arjun photoThe spirit and determination of Rwanda’s people inspired a Valley student to research practices to benefit banana farmers in the previously war-torn country.

Sophomore Arjun Ganga was one of 160 teens from around the world selected to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in Des Moines based on his research. Ganga interacted with several internationally renowned World Food Prize Laureates and leaders in food, agriculture, and international development at the Oct. 18-20 event.

“It was a great and unique experience to attend the Global Youth Institute along with the giants of the agriculture field,” he said. “I made a lot of great friends and got to listen to many influential and accomplished people. I could not believe I had this opportunity as a high school student.”

Ganga was selected for the honor after participating in the Iowa Youth Institute in March.Participation in the Iowa program, which drew more than 230 students, included writing a paper on a critical food-security issue in a developing country.

His research was selected as a top entry at the state event, qualifying him to attend the Global Youth Institute. The work is now available online.

The 20th anniversary of the genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1993-94 was in the public eye during the time Ganga was selecting a topic for his paper. With the help of Valley science teacher Brant Reif, Ganga studied how the once-warring tribes in Rwanda have made peace and are working together to improve the country’s economy.

Improved farming practices would not only provide more food, Ganga said, but protect the land for future generations.

“I learned that genetic mutation and more hygienically efficient practices are within reach, and that there are countless, cost-efficient ways to prevent food insecurity in Rwanda,” he said.

“Farming of bananas, done the right way, could reduce malnutrition and prevent soil erosion. I found this very interesting because I thought hunger was a large and expensive issue to tackle, but really, it is very plausible to confront.”

Reif teaches two classes at Valley related to the issues Ganga researched for this project. Plant Science, a one-semester course, discusses how to feed a growing world population while protecting the environment. Students seeking further enrichment may consider AP Environmental Science, a year-long course on sustainability that touches on agricultural practices. Biology and chemistry are prerequisites for the AP course.