Winners illustrate how top-level leadership and sustained commitment can dramatically reduce hunger
Washington, D.C., USA (June 21, 2011) --Two former presidents who led the drastic reduction of hunger and poverty in their countries were named the winners of the 2011 World Food Prize in a ceremony at the U.S. State Department today.
The World Food Prize Foundation
is honoring John Agyekum Kufuor
, former president of Ghana, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
, former president of Brazil, for creating and implementing government policies that alleviated hunger and poverty in their countries. They were commended in remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah.
“President Kufuor and President Lula da Silva have set a powerful example for other political leaders in the world,” said Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn
, president of the World Food Prize, in announcing the laureates. “Thanks to their personal commitment and visionary leadership, both Ghana and Brazil are on track to exceed the UN Millennium Development Goal 1 – to cut in half extreme hunger before 2015.”
“The battle to end hunger was Dr. Borlaug’s lifelong pursuit, and remains one of the great challenges of our day, requiring both a worldwide commitment to innovation and investment in agriculture, as well as country and local strategies,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “Presidents Kufuor and Lula da Silva have advanced food security for their people by pursuing innovative policies and programs, and their leadership and work stand as a model to all nations working to meet the moral imperative of feeding the world.”
"President Kufuor and President Lula da Silva have set the gold standard for presidential leadership in tackling the global challenges of poverty and hunger," said Administrator Rajiv Shah, who also delivered Clinton's remarks due to a change in schedule. "By helping train the next generation of forward-thinking leaders, we can build upon the legacy of Norman Borlaug and the inspirational work of this year's World Food Prize laureates to deliver meaningful results in food security and nutrition for people in developing countries across the world."
“The 2011 awardees represent the power of public policy and political commitment to the eradication of hunger and the achievement of UN Millennium Development Goals,” said Dr. M.S. Swaminathan
, chairman of the World Food Prize laureate selection committee. “They are outstanding role models of the service that can be rendered to human kind by devoting their lives by assuming high public offices for public good.”
Under President Kufuor's leadership, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to cut in half the proportion of its people who suffer from hunger, and the proportion of people living on less than a dollar per day, on course to meet UN Millenium Development Goal 1. Continuing Ghana's tradition of stability, President Kufuor prioritized national agricultural policies: Ghana saw a reduction in its poverty rate from 51.7 percent in 1991 to 26.5 percent in 2008, and hunger was reduced from 34 percent in 1990 down to 9 percent in 2004.
A guiding principle for President Kufuor during the entirety of his two terms as president of the Republic of Ghana (2001-2009) was to improve food security and reduce poverty through public- and private-sector initiatives. To that end, he implemented major economic and educational policies that increased the quality and quantity of food to Ghanaians, enhanced farmers' incomes, and improved school attendance and child nutrition through a nationwide feeding program.
President Lula da Silva made it clear, even before he took office as president of Brazil in 2003, that fighting hunger and poverty would be a top priority of his government. More than 10 government ministries were focused on the expansive Zero Hunger programs, which provided greater access to food, strengthened family farms and rural incomes, increased enrollment of primary school children, and empowered the poor. Zero Hunger very quickly became one of the most successful food and nutritional security policies in the world through its broad network of programs, including: the Bolsa Familia Program; the Food Purchase Program; and the School Feeding Program.
Over the eight years of his administration, President Lula da Silva's commitment and vision achieved dramatic reductions in hunger, extreme poverty and social exclusion, thereby greatly enhancing the lives of Brazil's people. During his tenure, UN Millennium Development Goal 1 was exceeded as Brazil reduced by half its proportion of hungry people, with 93 percent of children and 82 percent of adults eating three meals a day, and also reduced the percentage of Brazilians living in extreme poverty from 12 percent in 2003 down to 4.8 percent in 2009.
The World Food Prize was created in 1987 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug
, to recognize individuals who have contributed landmark achievements in increasing the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
The winners released the following statements regarding their selection:
"l am overjoyed that in this time of increasing food crisis around the world, l should be adjudged as deserving of this great award for the role l played in boosting agriculture in my country, Ghana, during my tenure as President," said former president Kufuor.
“I am convinced that what was important during my administration was the result of the partnership with the Brazilian population," said former president Lula da Silva. "I am really moved to know Brazil was chosen as a country that achieved good policies regarding agriculture and hunger. Brazil has a lot to show in the area of food security. And we want to share our experience with other countries, especially with African country and poor countries in Latin America – both our technical knowledge, and from the point of view of food productivity and distribution."
These two leaders will be formally awarded the World Food Prize at the 25th Anniversary Laureate Award Ceremony at the Iowa State Capital on October 13, in conjunction with the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, themed “The Next Generation: Confronting the Hunger Challenges of Tomorrow.”
Full biographies and more information is available at this link
Ambassador Kenneth Quinn's remarks from the ceremony are available at this link