Today, the World Food Prize Foundation announced that the 2011 World Food Prize will be awarded to former president of Ghana John Agyekum Kufuor and former president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for their contributions to improving food production and alleviating hunger. The World Food Prize is the premier international award recognizing individuals who have increased the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. This is the first time in its 25 years that the World Food Prize has been awarded to heads of state.
The winners were announced at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State that featured USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and World Food Prize Foundation President, Ambassador Kenneth Quinn. The speakers used the opportunity to emphasize the importance of alleviating hunger worldwide, and the role of innovations to help us meet the challenge of food security.
Under Secretary Robert Hormats opened the ceremony by calling for policies and programs that support agricultural technologies such as “new innovative disease resistant crop varieties.” Echoing his sentiments, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah described his vision of sharing ag technology worldwide to help prevent global hunger. Both Mr. Lula da Silva and Mr. Kufuor promoted technologies as tools to alleviate hunger and, as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “made a fundamental difference in their countries.”
President Lula da Silva’s administration spearheaded efforts to make Brazil a world leader in the adoption of biotech crops. He supported a $23 billion investment in a four-year “Plan for Action for Science, Technology and Innovation,” which funded research and innovation in biotechnology, among other science initiatives. Brazil claims 17 percent of the world’s biotech crops—only second to the US in total cropland devoted to biotech crops. During his tenure, Ghana’s former president Kufuor urged West African leaders to embrace biotechnology to help fight hunger in Africa.
Visit here to learn more about the World Food Prize laureates.