2012 World Food Prize Laureate Dr. Daniel Hillel: Transforming agriculture through sustainable water management

Posted on by on October 4th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

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!

HillelOn June 12, 2012, the World Food Prize Foundation named Dr. Daniel Hillel the 2012 World Food Prize Laureate for his work in developing micro-irrigation technology. In October he will be honored at a formal ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa, as a part of this year’s Borlaug Dialogue.

The development of micro-irrigation techniques and technology has enhanced the efficiency of water-use in agriculture, enabling farmers to produce substantially higher crop yields while reducing their water usage. This has been particularly important for farmers in arid and dry-land regions where water scarcity is a constraining factor to agricultural production.

With the world population growing to an expected 9 billion people by 2050, and natural resources for agriculture not expected to increase during that same time, micro-irrigation will play a critical role in boosting global agriculture production with today’s resource levels.

Through partnerships with international development organizations, including the World Bank, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and USAID, Dr. Hillel’s techniques have reached farmers, researchers, and policymakers around the world, improving the lives of millions.

In particular, the Middle East and North Africa regions will need to maximize their scarce water resources and can increase water and food productivity by getting ‘more crop for every drop’ with micro-irrigation. The Global Harvest Initiative’s 2012 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) highlights the importance of Dr. Hillel’s contributions to the application of micro-irrigation technology are for the water scarce regions of the world.

Dr. Hillel’s pioneering work in the last five decades has united people across political and cultural borders. Although he grew up in Israel, his nomination for the World Food Prize included recommendation letters from scientists and experts in Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Hillel said, “I am a fervent believer in peaceful international cooperation based on scientific process, amity, and the concern for the basic needs of humanity.”

Reflecting on receiving the World Food Prize, Dr. Hillel said:

“My joy and gratitude at being granted the World Food Prize this year is tempered by the realization that the work this award recognizes is far from complete. The task of improving the sustainable management of the Earth’s finite and vulnerable soil, water, and energy resources for the benefit of humanity while sustaining the natural biotic community and its overall environmental integrity is an ongoing and increasingly urgent challenge for our generation and for future generations. Meeting this challenge will require enhanced global cooperation and integrated scientific research. It is a task, indeed a collective responsibility, that we cannot shirk and must indeed broaden and intensify.”

For a full biography of Dr. Daniel Hillel, click here.

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