Source: UF IFAS Blogs

At an early age, Pedro Sanchez expressed a fascination and passion for the soil on which he grew up in Cuba.

More specifically, he was drawn to the deep rust colors of the island’s tropical soil. That same soil that stained his play clothes was where he learned to grow fruit on his family’s farm in Caimito del Guayabal.

“One of my fondest memories as a child is playing with the rich red soil, curious about its color and properties at my family’s business,” he said.

image - Dr. Pedro Sanchez tropical soils book
Dr. Pedro Sanchez with his textbook Properties and Management of Soils in the Tropics.

That soil further fueled a curiosity that later transformed into a love for agriculture, and ultimately, a passion for improving the world’s food supply and reducing hunger.

Currently, at UF/IFAS, Sanchez is a research professor of tropical soils in the Soil & Water Sciences Department, and a core faculty of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems. Sanchez works in this position after a lifetime of conducting research worldwide from Africa to South America, empowering farmers and landowners with research to increase crop yields, working with world leaders to improve public policies and implementing efforts to mitigate the effects of global warming with farming techniques.


Designated as a pioneer with several honors in the field of tropical soils and agroforestry, Sanchez received the 2002 World Food Prize, agriculture’s equivalent of a Nobel and a MacArthur Fellowship. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also the recipient of the International Soil Science Award by the Soil Science Society of America and the International Service in Agronomy Award by the American Society of Agronomy.

Today, Sanchez has built a legacy on the research of tropical soils around the world. He has led teams of scientists to develop techniques that transformed the perception of the tropical soils that once were considered unsuitable for agriculture into productive grounds of food-feeding masses.

For his most recent distinction, Sanchez was named as one of a select group of 2021 Great Immigrants. This one has special meaning as well because it sheds light on his Latin roots, the heritage in which he holds great pride. Led by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the initiative recognizes immigrants who have made notable contributions to the progress of American society.

To read the full article, visit the IFAS website.