Heidi Kuhn in Afghanistan. (World Food Prize photo)

A farmer from California who works with war-torn countries to restore crops to the land is the 2023 World Food Prize Laureate.

World Food Prize Foundation President, Terry Branstad made the announcement this morning at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. “I am so pleased to announce that the 2023 World Food Prize Laureate is Heidi Kuhn,” Branstad says.

It is Branstad’s first laureate announcement since he took the World Food Prize Foundation position. He is a former Iowa governor and Ambassador to China. Branstad says Kuhn is the founder and CEO of the nonprofit “Roots of Peace” organization.

“Our 53rd laureate has built a model of work directly with farmers to restore farmland and food security after a devastating conflict. Through this work, she has shown more than a million people living in war torn regions, a way forward to restoring peace and prosperity through agriculture,” he says.

Kuhn in Napa Valley California. (WFP photo)

Branstad says Kuhn developed a process that has proved to be successful around the world. “First, she partners with the de-mining organizations to clear landmines,” he says, “then she works with farmers to replant fields with modern agriculture practices, our laureate has worked in nine countries to confront the daunting challenge of rebuilding food systems and livelihoods after conflict.”

He says her efforts started by partnering with wineries in her home state of California to raise funds to remove landmines in Croatia so they could replant vineyards and orchards. “Then she took this model to Afghanistan. After clearing landmines. There, she helped farmers including more than five-thousand women produce high-quality crops,” Branstad says. “She built agriculture value chains and provided market support and development. Her organization is one of the few us nonprofits that still operate in Afghanistan.”

Kuhn was not at the announcement as Branstad says she is working in Azerbaijan to remove landmines, which is her Mother’s Day tradition. The World Food Prize was created by Cresco, Iowa native Norman Borlaug. Borlaug won the Nobel Prize for his efforts to end famine.

Kuhn will receive the World Food Prize at a ceremony on October 26th at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines.

Radio Iowa