A native of Cuba has won the 2002 World Food Prize and its quarter-million dollar award. The Iowa-based World Food Prize Foundation hands out the award annually, and this year’s winner is Dr. Pedro Sanchez.Sanchez has attended two of the World Food Prize symposiums of the past 16 years to discuss his work on improving tropical soils.His father was an agronomist who traveled around Cuba selling fertilizer to boost farmers’ yields. Sanchez, who is 61 years old, came to the United States to go to college and graduated from Cornell. He then led North Carolina State’s Rice Research program in the 1970s. He’s currently a visiting professor at U-C Berkeley. Sanchez is noted for his work in Peru, where he introduced a “miracle rice” as well as his work in Brazil, where he helped convert unproductive land into agricultural fields. He says there are about 70-million acres of farmland developed there that now compete with Iowa in growing soybeans.Sanchez also advised farmers in Africa to plant fast-growing trees to replenish the unproductive soil there with nitrogen. The trees are cut down after a year or two and the leaves are left for their nitrogen content.The announcement of this year’s World Food Prize Laureate was made yesterday in Toronto at the International Horticultural Congress.
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