High honour for Professor Byerlee

ORDER OF AUSTRALIA: Dr Derek Byerlee has been honoured as an Officer of the Order of Australia. Image provided.
ORDER OF AUSTRALIA: Dr Derek Byerlee has been honoured as an Officer of the Order of Australia. Image provided.

An adjunct professor for Georgetown's University, originally from Orroroo in the Southern Flinders has been honoured as an Officer of the Order of Australia, the second highest membership honour.

Dr Derek Byerlee has been recognised for his distinguished service to agricultural economics, particularly to sustainable development, poverty reduction and food security.

Having spent much of his life outside of Australia, Dr Byerlee was very surprised at his honour and never expected it, yet for his contributions, it is greatly deserved.

His interest in such life-changing agricultural work was sparked by his childhood on a sheep and wheat farm near Eurelia.

He went on to study agricultural science at the University of Adelaide, then to agricultural economics at the University of New England before moving to the United States to pursue his doctoral studies.

The interest for Dr Byerlee was improving the lives of those in poorer countries by focusing on their farming methods and researching to improve them.

After almost 20 years spent living and working in a variety of countries including Sierra Leone, Mexio, Pakistan and Ethiopia, he moved on to work for the World Bank in Washington, a leader in supporting international development.

Dr Byerlee is proud of three very important contributions over the years and explains that the research that has been completed has made a 'huge impact on feeding the world'.

Those contributions include the impact of his research for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre in Mexico where the centre was able to identify research needs and test new technologies suited for small farmers, where even the poorest of farmers were able to benefit.

Other highlights include a report produced whilst he was at the World Bank that helped re-ignite an interest in agriculture as an engine of growth and poverty reduction in poor countries. Dr Byerlee also prides himself on his direct teachings to students at Georgetown University in Washington DC.

"We have attracted excellent students and for two years running, students specialising in food and agriculture have won the prize for the best student. Working with these excellent students gives me a sense of optimism about the future of the world."