Des Moines, Iowa (October 17, 2012) -- A young Indian social scientist whose research on groundwater resources in agriculture led to major policy changes benefiting thousands of farmers in West Bengal was presented the “Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, Endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation” at the newly renovated World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. Dr. Aditi Mukherji, the first recipient of the award, is a senior researcher at the International Water Management Institute’s New Delhi office was presented with the $10,000 award this evening in Des Moines, Iowa, as part of this year’s World Food Prize international symposium.
The presentation ceremony was attended by government leaders, policymakers, business CEOs, scientists and academics and was presided over by Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize with a special video presentation from Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation.
The Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, Endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation recognizes exceptional, science-based achievement in international agriculture and food production by an individual under 40 who has clearly demonstrated intellectual courage, stamina, and determination in the fight to eliminate global hunger and poverty and who emulate the scientific innovation and dedication demonstrated by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug.
“Dr. Mukherji has demonstrated qualities that emulate Dr. Borlaug’s ingenuity and perseverance in transferring his scientific breakthroughs to farmers and hungry people around the world,” said Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. “Like Dr. Borlaug, she has shown persistence, innovation, effective communication, contribution to science, and application of that science for policy change to improve lives and livelihoods.”
“Access to reliable, affordable and timely irrigation are very powerful tools of poverty alleviation,” Dr. Mukherji said. “What truly inspires me is the impact that one’s research can make on the lives of the poor by providing more food on their table – something that Dr. Borlaug showed us years ago through his pioneering work in Mexico, India and elsewhere. He is my ultimate role model.”
Her research combined with her action in the political arena led to the enactment of two critical policy changes in the past two years—one to remove a restrictive permit requirement for operating low-power irrigation pumps; and another to reduce the electrification cost to run the pumps. As a result, farmers now have easier and more universal access to groundwater for irrigation and will be able to intensify their cropping systems, earn better livelihoods and emerge out of poverty.
Dr. Mukherji was educated at Presidency College, Calcutta; Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi; and the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai; and completed a Ph.D degree in Human Geography at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. A downloadable photo of Dr. Mukherji can be found at www.worldfoodprize.org.
ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE: The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. 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 Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Denmark, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States. The Prize also hosts the annual Borlaug Dialogue international symposium on global food issues and a variety of youth programs that aim to inspire the next generation to work in the fields surrounding global agriculture.