The World Food Prize is the foremost international honor recognizing -- without regard to race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs -- the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
The $250,000 annual award recognizes contributions in any field involved in the world food supply including, but not limited to: plant, animal and soil science; food science and technology; nutrition; rural development; marketing; food processing and packaging; water and the environment; natural resource conservation; physical infrastructure; transportation, storage and distribution; special or extraordinary feeding programs; social organization and poverty elimination; economics and finance; policy analysis; and public advocacy.
The World Food Prize emphasizes the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people. By honoring those who have worked successfully toward this goal, The Prize calls attention to what has been done to improve global food security and to what can be accomplished in the future.
Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work in global agriculture, envisioned a prize that would honor those who have made significant and measurable contributions to improving the world's food supply. Beyond recognizing these people for their personal accomplishments, Borlaug saw The Prize as a means of establishing role models who would inspire others. His vision was realized when The World Food Prize was created in 1986 with sponsorship by General Foods Corporation.
Since then, the World Food Prize has honored outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food throughout the world. Laureates have been recognized from countries around the world, including Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Cape Verde, China, Cuba, Denmark, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Israel, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, Uganda, United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States.
The name of the new Laureate(s) is/are made public in a special ceremony each spring at the US State Department in Washington DC, with the Secretary of State presiding. The first Laureate Announcement Ceremony was held in 2004 with Secretary Colin Powell presiding.
The Prize is presented each October on or around UN World Food Day (October 16) in a pomp-filled ceremony in the magnificent Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. In addition to the cash award, the Laureate receives a sculpture designed by the noted artist and designer, Saul Bass.
The World Food Prize has become a week-long set of events drawing over 1,000 participants from over 50 countries. In addition to the Laureate Award Ceremony, the World Food Prize series of events include the: Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium; Global Youth Institute for high school students; Iowa Hunger Summit; Laureate Lecture Series; and presentation of the Dr. Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation.
The World Food Prize was initially sponsored by businessman and philanthropist John Ruan Sr. with support from the Governor and State Legislature of Iowa. Mr. Ruan stepped forward to endow The Prize and relocate it to Des Moines in 1990 when its first sponsor withdrew. Without Mr. Ruan's generosity, the Prize and Dr. Borlaug's vision could not have continued. Today, there are over 80 companies, foundations and individuals who are donors to the Foundation. In 2001 John Ruan's son, John Ruan III, succeeded his father as chairman of the World Food Prize. The Foundation's president is Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn. A distinguished international Council of Advisors provides guidance and support.