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A Decade of World Food Prize Laureates
This is a part of a series of blog posts leading up to this year’s World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, where GHI will release its 3rd Annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report® on October 17. Please join us!
The World Food Prize, pioneered by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, came to life in 1986. Dr. Borlaug envisioned a prize that would honor those who have made a significant and measurable contribution to improving the world’s food supply. He not wanted to recognize the personal accomplishments of recipients and establish those honorees as role models to inspire others.
The Prize recognizes accomplishments in many fields of study that contribute to feeding the world. As we look at the laureates of the last decade, it is important to recognize that this Prize encompasses not only technology improvements that have contributed to increasing the agricultural productivity of farmers, but also showcases policy accomplishments in health and nutrition, empowerment of people and communities, and the role of humanitarian and development agencies.
The Global Harvest Initiative believes improving global food and nutrition security requires collaboration between farmers and producers, the private-sector, foundations, NGO’s and government agencies. GHI salutes past and future laureates, and thanks the World Food Prize for recognizing accomplishments of food security champions.
In the last decade, the following 17 laureates have received the World Food Prize.
2012 – Revolutionizing water and soil management techniques
Dr. Daniel Hillel – Israel
The 2012 World Food Prize will be awarded to Dr. Daniel Hillel for his role in conceiving and implementing a radically new procedure for bringing water to crops in arid and dry land regions, known as “micro-irrigation.” Dr. Hillel’s pioneering scientific work in Israel revolutionized food production over the past five decades, first in the Middle East and then in other regions around the world.
His work laid the foundation for advancements in techniques to maximize efficient water usage in agriculture, increase crop yields, and minimize environmental degradation.
2011 – Implementing policies to alleviate hunger and poverty
John Agyekum Kufuor – Ghana
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – Brazil
John Agyekum Kufuor and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were chosen to jointly receive the 2011 World Food Prize for their personal commitment and visionary leadership while serving as the presidents of Ghana and Brazil, respectively.
Kufor and Lula da Silva were recognized for their efforts to develop and implement government policies to alleviate hunger and poverty in their respective countries. The significant achievements of these two former heads of state illustrate how transformational leadership truly can effect positive change and greatly improve people’s lives.
2010 – Empowering people to end global poverty and hunger at the grassroots level
David Beckmann – United States
Jo Luck – United States
David Beckmann and Jo Luck received the 2010 World Food Prize for their landmark achievements in building Bread for the World and Heifer International into two of the world’s foremost grassroots organizations to lead the charge toward ending hunger and poverty around the globe.
In honoring Beckmann and Luck, the World Food Prize recognized the critical efforts of NGOs in mobilizing and empowering everyday citizens to end hunger in communities around the world.
2009 – Increasing food security in sub-Saharan Africa with sorghum hybrids
Dr. Gebisa Ejeta – Ethiopia
The 2009 World Food Prize was awarded to Dr. Gebisa Ejeta of Ethiopia for developing sorghum hybrids that are resistant to drought and the devastating Striga weed. Ejeta’s innovation has dramatically increased the production and availability of one of the world’s five principal grains, enhancing the food supply for hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa.
2008 – Inspiring global commitment to school attendance and nutrition
Hon. Robert Dole – United States
Hon. George McGovern – United States
Former U.S. Senators George McGovern and Robert Dole were selected to receive the 2008 World Food Prize for their inspired, collaborative leadership that encouraged a global commitment to school feeding, enhanced school attendance, and nutrition for millions of the world’s poorest children, especially girls.
2007 – Developing technologies for large-scale food storage and transportation
Dr. Philip E. Nelson – United States
Dr. Philip E. Nelson, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, was awarded the 2007 World Food Prize for his innovative breakthrough technologies that revolutionized the food industry, particularly in the area of large-scale storage and transportation of fresh fruit and vegetables.
An icon of the food world, Dr. Nelson’s discoveries have made major contributions to the availability of nutritious foods worldwide. Commonly credited for recognizing the untapped potential of aseptic technologies for much larger-scale applications, the aseptic bulk processing and packaging technology pioneered by Nelson can be found in almost every country in the world.
2006 – Transforming the infertile Cerrado region of Brazil into highly productive cropland
Edson Lobato – Brazil
Alysson Paolinelli – Brazil
Dr. A. Colin McClung – United States
The 2006 World Food Prize laureates – Dr. Edson Lobato of Brazil, H.E. Alysson Paolinelli of Brazil, and Dr. A. Colin McClung of the United States – each played a vital role in transforming the Cerrado, a region of vast, once infertile tropical high plains stretching across Brazil, into highly productive cropland.
Though they worked independently of one another, in different decades and in different fields, their collective efforts over the past 50 years have unlocked Brazil’s tremendous potential for food production. Their advancements in soil science and policy leadership made agricultural development possible in the Cerrado, a region named from Portuguese words meaning “closed, inaccessible land.”
2005 – Enriching the diets of the impoverished through aquaculture
Dr. Modadugu Gupta – India
Dr. Modadugu V. Gupta was named the 2005 World Food Prize Laureate for his exceptional achievement of enriching the diets and lives of the world’s most impoverished families. As a prime architect of a “blue revolution” in Asia and around the globe, Dr. Gupta helped to increase the protein and mineral content in the diets of more than one million of the world’s most impoverished families.
His promotion of aquaculture has contributed to the economic and social empowerment of men and women in poor and rural areas where most lack the means to improve their own lives. Dedicated to improving the world’s fish supply, Dr. Gupta has built a global network of like-minded scientists, managers, and leaders. Dr. Gupta’s work has impacted millions of people across several continents and a wide range of backgrounds,from international experts to landless farmers.
2004 – Cultivating high-yield, resilient varieties of rice
Dr. Monty Jones – Sierra Leone
Yuan Longping – China
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations declared 2004 the International Year of Rice – the main staple food in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, North America, and South America, and the Pacific region. These two rice scientists, working independently, each made miraculous breakthroughs that improved the lives of countless human beings throughout the world.
The 2004 World Food Prize Laureates were Professor Yuan Longping, director-general of the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center in Hunan, China, and Dr. Monty Jones of Sierra Leone, a former senior rice breeder at the West Africa Rice Development Center and presently executive secretary of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa in Accra, Ghana.
2003 – Transforming the World Food Programme into the largest humanitarian relief organization in the world
Hon. Catherine Bertini – United States
The honorable Catherine Bertini was chosen as the 2003 World Food Prize Laureate for transforming the United Nations World Food Programme into the largest and most responsive humanitarian relief organization in the world, capable of ensuring that food of good quality would be available in sufficient quantities to the world’s neediest, even in the direst of circumstances.
2002 – Restoring fertility to degraded soil
Dr. Pedro Sanchez – United States
By pioneering ways to restore fertility to some of the world’s poorest and most degraded soils, the 2002 World Food Prize Laureate, Dr. Pedro A. Sanchez, has made a major contribution to preserving our delicate ecosystem, while at the same time offering great hope to all those struggling to survive on marginal lands around the world.