Des Moines, IA (October 18, 2012 ) – The Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Ban Ki-moon opened his remarks at the World Food Prize Laureate Ceremony at the Iowa State Capital last evening by describing how the drought in Iowa will affect food prices and the availability of food and saying, “Iowa is that important. Iowa nourishes the world.”
The 2012 World Food Prize was awarded to Dr. Daniel Hillel, an Israeli scientist who pioneered a radically innovative way of bringing water to crops in arid and dry-land regions. Dr. Hillel was presented with a $250,000 award check.
In recognizing Dr. Hillel, the Secretary-General stated, “…we draw hope from contributions like those of this year’s honoree (Dr. Hillel).” He went on to say, “Imagine trying to coax crops out of the dry ground of the Middle East,” and that Daniel Hillel “stared at hard circumstances. Instead of waiting for a rainstorm, he had a brainstorm.”
Dr. Hillel’s water management concepts – promoted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization – have spread principles, designing practical applications and achieving wide outreach to farmers, communities, researchers and agricultural policymakers in more than 30 countries. Dr. Hillel has impacted the lives of millions.
During the hour and one half live television broadcast, Dr. Hillel’s scientific achievements were noted as well as his dedication to working with people across borders to help improve food security for all. It was of particular significance that Dr. Hillel’s nomination for the World Food Prize contained letters of support from individuals and organizations in Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Special artistic elements during the ceremony included the OP. 96 American by Antonin Dvorak, performed by the Bryant Park Quartet from New York; and as a special tribute to Dr. Hillel, Israel’s leading international concert and recording artist, Noa sang several selections showing her musical and lyrical sensibilities combined with her Yemenite roots.
Two Iowa students were recognized for excellence in their research and work abroad as participants in the Global Youth Institute in summer 2011. Anthony “AJ” Wenndt is from Keystone, Iowa and a sophomore at Grinnell College. He completed his internship at Icipe-African Insect Science for Food and Health in Mbita, Kenya where he investigated rural smallholders’ use of Push-Pull Agriculture near Lake Victoria. Wenndt received the John Crystal Award.
Pavane Gorrepati from Davenport, Iowa is a freshman at Yale University, and received the Elaine Szymoniak Award for excellence in completing her internship at the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center in Changsha, China where she examined both the scientific and human elements of hybrid rice.
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, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States.