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2015 World Food Prize Laureate Has Helped Millions of Poor Farmers Improve their Livelihoods
By Emily Ardalan, GHI Public Affairs and Policy Research Intern
Often called the “Nobel Prize for food and agriculture,” the World Food Prize is awarded annually to a person who has advanced human development through the improvement of quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. The World Food Prize was created by Dr. Norman Borlaug, winner of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in global agriculture and father of the “Green Revolution.” Borlaug’s vision was to recognize and advance the efforts of those who worked to improve global food security.
Laureates have been recognized from all around the world, as well as from a variety of fields, including food and agriculture science and technology, manufacturing, marketing, nutrition, economics, poverty alleviation, political leadership and the social sciences. The Laureates also serve as accomplished role models, who would encourage and inspire the next generation.
On July 1, 2015, the 2015 World Food Prize Laureate was announced in a ceremony at the U.S. State Department hosted by Ambassador Charles Rivkin, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation, announced the winner, followed by a keynote address from Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack.
This year, the World Food Prize will be awarded to Sir Fazle Hasan Abed of Bangladesh, founder and chairperson of BRAC (formerly known as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee). His organization has grown into the world’s largest NGO and is considered the most effective anti-poverty organization in the world. Founded in Bangladesh, BRAC has operations in 11 countries throughout Asia, Africa, and even to the Americas, and has helped nearly 150 million people rise out of poverty. The BRAC mission is to create opportunities for the world’s poor and empower them to be able to take advantage of those opportunities.
Since BRAC’s creation in 1972, Sir Abed and BRAC have improved food security and decreased poverty levels for millions of people. BRAC works in many sectors to promote improvements in all aspects of people’s lives – from agriculture, to gender issues, to sanitation, and finance. Sir Abed’s multi-faceted, integrated development approach emphasizes innovation, local participation, and scalability.
BRAC has been particularly effective in helping millions of small scale and subsistence farmers increase their productivity, incomes, and nutrition. BRAC organizes demonstration projects where farmers learn about efficient techniques, yield intensification, seed quality, and financial support services. BRAC also invests in production centers that create a variety of agriculture-related businesses: dairy processing centers, feed mills, packaging factories, and more. These production centers stabilize the economy, empower workers, increase food security, and provide capital for essentials like schools and health care systems.
Sir Abed has also focused on the empowerment and education of women, which he sees as critical for lifting poor families out of poverty. He launched programs to provide agricultural, financial, business, and commercial training to more than 2 million women and has given them the ability to support their families and make choices for their futures.
Sir Abed will receive the $250,000 World Food Prize this October, during the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium. More than 4,000 institutions and organizations from around the world are invited to participate in the discussion and collaboration on global food security.
The Global Harvest Initiative will also release the 2015 Global Agricultural Productivity® (GAP) Report® at the World Food Prize in Des Moines on October 14th. Stay tuned for details!