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Food Security in Post-Conflict Zones
Exploring efforts to rebuild communities and agricultural production after a major conflict
August 22, 2023

Program Overview

This live interactive program features the work of dedicated people doing the tough work of rebuilding agricultural communities in post conflict zones. Join us live on Thursday, October 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM EST.

The importance of food security is most urgent in regions where war and conflict has disrupted communities. Beyond the impact on agricultural production and supply chains, the damage to communities and the people producing food have long-lasting effects. Long after conflict has stopped, the work of recovery and rebuilding community cohesion requires sustained effort.

In this program, our focus is the mental health impacts and community-building efforts in post conflict regions. In advance of the 2023 Borlaug Dialogue, our featured speakers include 2023 World Food Prize recipient Heidi Kuhn to discuss her work with Roots of Peace. Heidi’s contributions to post conflict agricultural recovery and demining efforts around the world sets the stage for our discussion.

Additional speakers include senior U.S. State Department officials and program managers in Ukraine. Viewers will receive a real-time look at the importance of rebuilding Ukraine’s agricultural capacity in the wake of Russia’s 2022 full-scale invasion and year of ongoing conflict.

This program features live interactive chat and we’ll address questions from the online audience. The video will be available for viewing following the live program. We look forward to seeing you online at https://interactive.state.gov/food-security/ for this important discussion.

Opening Remarks

Ramin Toloui

Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Ramin Toloui is the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. In this role, Toloui leads the Department’s efforts focused on expanding opportunity for American workers and businesses, deepening cooperation with other countries on shared economic challenges, and leveraging economic tools to advance U.S. national security objectives. Before joining the Department of State, Toloui was Professor of the Practice of International Finance at Stanford University and the Tad and Dianne Taube Policy Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. His research and teaching focused on global markets and international economic cooperation, prevention and management of financial crises, and the impact of technological change on economic and financial stability. Toloui served from 2014 through 2017 as the Assistant Secretary for International Finance at the U.S. Treasury Department, where he was responsible for international monetary affairs, global financial markets, coordination with the G-7/G-20, and regional and bilateral economic issues. From 2006 to 2014, Ramin served as Global Co-Head of Emerging Markets Portfolio Management at PIMCO, directing portfolio strategy and trading for $100 billion in emerging market investments. Ramin began his career as a civil servant at the U.S. Treasury Department working on financial stabilization programs around the globe, including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, the Dominican Republic, Turkey, and the Balkans. Ramin received an A.B. summa cum laude in Economics from Harvard University and an M.Phil in International Relations from Balliol College at Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Featured Speakers

Heidi Kühn

Founder and CEO, Roots of Peace

Heidi Kühn is the Founder and CEO of Roots of Peace. She founded the humanitarian non-profit organization with a vision of turning Mines to Vines. After winning her own battle with cancer, Kühn was inspired to remove an insidious ‘cancer of the earth’—replacing remnants of war with bountiful farmland worldwide. Since 1997, her farmer-focused development model that restores farmland, food security, livelihoods and resilience after devastating conflicts has transformed war-torn lands worldwide. For more than a decade, she has shown millions of people living in war-torn regions around the world a way forward for restoring peace and prosperity through agriculture.

Kühn has grown her business model for peace across the world with the support of governments, international organizations, and the private sector. To date, the work of Roots of Peace has impacted over one million farmers and members of farming families, spanning ten countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Guatemala, Iraq, Israel, Palestine and Vietnam. It has facilitated the removal of unexploded bombs and landmines and restored the land to agricultural use with the planting of millions of vines and fruit trees.

In acknowledgment of her lifetime achievements, Kühn has received multiple awards. Most recently, she was named the 2023 World Food Prize Laureate. She was also given the 2023 Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice by the Harmony Foundation. Previously, she was named University of California at Berkeley Alumni of the Year Award in 2002 for Excellence in Achievement. In 2003 she was inducted into the Marin County Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2005 she was awarded the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations Peace & Security Award. In 2006 she received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. In 2007, she was bestowed the Jefferson Award and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Public Service– the foremost award for American changemakers. In 2019, Heidi was the first American woman to win the Mahatma Gandhi Global Family Seva Medal in India. She is the proud recipient of the International Women’s Forum (IWF) Making a Difference Award and was honored as one of IWF’s “Ideas Remaking the World” honorees in 2020. In 2021, Heidi’s visionary leadership was acknowledged with her inclusion in the inaugural Forbes 50 Over 50 “Women Who Are Leading the Way in Impact” List. In November 2022, Heidi was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the American University of Afghanistan at a dinner hosted by former First Ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. In 2023, Heidi was appointed to the Advisory Council of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage. Heidi is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Political Economics. She has pursued a lifetime seeking peaceful solutions across all borders, and is a former CNN reporter and producer through her own company NewsLink International, which covered breaking news stories of U.S./Soviet Relations during the late 1980’s during the time of perestroika and glasnost. She lives in San Rafael, California, with her husband, Gary, with whom she has four children—Brooks, Tucker, Kyleigh, and Christian. She also has six grandchildren.


Tony Fernandes

Deputy Assistant Secretary For Trade Policy And Negotiations
Bureau Of Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Tony Fernandes became Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Trade Policy and Negotiations in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs in March 2022, after having served as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary since August 2021. Prior to that, Tony was Director of the Multilateral Trade Affairs Office in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Previously, Tony was Director for Regional Affairs in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs and Director for Africa and Middle East Programs in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. He also served in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Diplomatic Readiness Task Force, and the Operations Center. His overseas assignments include positions in Turkey, Nigeria, Russia, Canada, and China. Tony joined the Foreign Service in 1997 and is a member of the Senior Foreign Service. He holds a B.A. from Boston College, a J.D. from the University of Minnesota School of Law, and a Master’s in National Security Strategy from the National War College.

Guest Speakers

Volodymyr Korobkin

Founder, Mars Agro Farm, Ukraine

Volodymyr Korobkin has worked in farming for over 20 years and is the head and founder of the Mars Agro farm, and co-owner and financial director of Agro Light LLC. Born on March 23, 1980 in the city of Grozny, he has resided in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine since 1991. From 1999 to 2001, Volodymyr studied business and graduated from the Business Administration Institute and earned a degree in finance. During this time he also worked at McDonald’s Corporation. Volodymyr is married and has three children. His hobbies include the outdoors and he is a certified advanced diver, hunter and fisherman.

Background Resources

Roots of Peace

By improving farm techniques, addressing supply chain gaps, and supporting local exporters in reaching high-value markets, Roots of Peace improves livelihoods and contributes to building peace in war-torn lands.
Visit the Roots of Peace website


World Food Prize Foundation

The World Food Prize Foundation’s mission is to elevate innovations and inspire action to sustainably increase the quality, quantity and availability of food for all.
Visit the World Food Prize Foundation website