Two former heads of state were formally presented with the 2011 World Food Prize last night in a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol. The Iowa-based award is considered the Nobel Prize of agriculture. This year’s recipients are former Ghana president John Kufuor and former president of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Kufuor met with reporters prior to the ceremony and talked about his two terms as president and how he implemented policies that increased the quality and quantity of food to Ghanaians.
One change involved new incentives for farmers to boost production of Ghana’s top crop – cocoa.
“The state paid the farmer not more than 40% of the international market price. My government decided to give a bigger portion of the international price to the farmer to kickstart the farmer’s commitment to looking after the cocoa farms,” Kufuor said. The Ghana government also provided farmers with needed pesticides and fertilizer. The moves paid off, as cocoa production doubled.
Kufuor said Ghana reached a record of 734,000 tons of cocoa in 2005. In recent years, production has reached 1 million tons. Kufuor served as president of Ghana between 2001 and 2009. He ran for office promising to reduce hunger.
The poverty rate in Ghana was 40% in 2000. By 2008, the poverty rate dropped to 28%. In Brazil, Lula da Silva implemented a “Zero Hunger” program. Child malnutrition in Brazil fell nearly 62-percent during Lula da Silva’s eight years as president.