The Iowa-based prize, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize for food and agriculture,” is awarded annually to individuals who’ve helped improve the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, revealed the winners of this year’s award at a ceremony Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
“These four scientists have truly achieved what Hippocrates mandated two millennia ago,” Quinn said. “They have developed food crops that can make sick people well, counter malnutrition, and enhance well-being.” The four scientists are Doctors Maria Andrade of Cape Verde, Robert Mwanga of Uganda, and Americans Jan Low and Howarth Bouis.
“The process of breeding critical vitamins and micronutrients into staple crops, thereby dramatically reducing hidden hunger and improving health for millions of people,” Quinn explained. Andrade, Mwanga, and Low are part of a team at the International Potato Center — and are being honored for their work developing what Quinn calls “the single most successful example of biofortification” — the orange-fleshed sweet potato.
“Their plant breeding in Mozambique and Uganda led to the production of multiple vitamin-A enriched sweet potato varieties and their implementation of education and extension efforts in 10 African countries have encouraged and convinced farmers to plant, consumers to purchase, and children and adults to eat this nutritionally fortified food,” Quinn said.
Bouis is the founder of HarvestPlus at the International Food Policy Research Institute. “Through the combined efforts of our four laureates, over 10 million persons have already been positively impacted by biofortified crops, with the potential of several hundred million more having their nutrition and health enhanced over the coming decades,” Quinn said.
This year’s $250,000 prize will be divided equally between the four recipients. The World Food Prize will be formally presented to the four scientists at a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines on October 13.