At Illinois, he was the first faculty member to hold the Soybean Industry Chair in Agricultural Strategy. During his tenure, he served as the Vice Chancellor for Public Engagement, the first Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory, and the first Director of the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss.
Dr. Sonka joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1975. He also has held assignments with the Monsanto Corporation, New Zealand’s AGMARDT Foundation, Arthur Andersen & Co. and the Institute of Agribusiness, Santa Clara University. In 1982, he cofounded the Centrec Consulting Group, LLC, in Savoy, Illinois, and was a partner there for more than 25 years. From a Midwest farm family, Dr. Sonka received a Bachelor's degree (1970, with distinction) and a Ph.D. degree (1974) in economics from Iowa State University.
Dr. Sonka's teaching and research emphasized strategic change and decision making in the food and agribusiness sector. He has authored or coauthored over 220 books, articles and publications. In 1983, he authored Computers in Farming, the first text devoted to computer use in the sector. An internationally known scholar, he has been recognized with national professional awards for the quality of both his teaching and research. Dr. Sonka is well known for his unusual ability to relate that scholarship to practical issues of importance to decision makers. His international experiences include consulting and lecturing on every continent except Antarctica.
3 Questions to … Steven T. Sonka
1. Which aspect of the food waste problem is the most relevant for you?
At the ADM Institute, we focus on prevention and reduction of postharvest loss in food chains in developing countries. Our attention is particularly concentrated on improving performance in the upstream stages of smallholder farmer-based supply chains.
2. And what should be done to improve things in this field?
We believe that the fundamental question that needs to be rigorously answered is: why don’t farmers and managers employ the proven and relatively simple technologies and practices that are known to reduce loss? Further we believe that the best way to effectively address that key unknown is through interdisciplinary engagement and research which is both driven and informed by the perspectives of smallholder farmers and managers.
3. Do you know SAVE FOOD intitiative already and which role does the Initiative SAVE FOOD play in fighting food losses and food waste in your opinion?
The ADM Institute is a partner organization in the SAVE FOOD Initiative. As a global platform for actors and stakeholders focused on loss and waste reduction, the SAVE FOOD initiative can play a key role in achieving that goal. The activities of the SAVE FOOD initiative, such as facilitating network-building and distributing resources and information via online tools, meetings, and events, are vital to this effort.