Drs. Maria Andrade, Howarth Bouis, Jan Low and Robert Mwanga were awarded the 2016 World Food Prize on October 13, among an international audience at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. There will be a conversation with the 2016 World Food Prize laureates at 11 am today, which will be webcast live from the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium, at www.worldfoodprize.org/live.
Three of the 2016 laureates -- Drs. Maria Andrade, Jan Low and Robert Mwanga of the International Potato Center (CIP), which has had sweet potatoes in its research mandate since 1988 -- are being honored for their work developing the single most successful example of biofortification -- the orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP). Dr. Andrade and Dr. Mwanga, plant scientists in Mozambique and Uganda, bred the Vitamin A-enriched OFSP using genetic material from CIP and other sources, while Dr. Low structured the nutrition studies and programs that convinced almost two million households in 10 separate African countries to plant, purchase and consume this nutritionally fortified food.
In 1971, The International Potato Center, CIP, was founded as a root and tuber research-for-development institution that delivers sustainable solutions to the world issues of hunger, poverty and the degradation of natural resources. While working for CIP, Drs. Maria Andrade, Jan Low, and Robert Mwanga undertook a project to develop disease-resistant, drought-tolerant, high yielding varieties of orange-fleshed sweet potato that can flourish in the variable soils and climatic conditions found in Sub-Sarahan Africa in an effort counter the effects of Vitamin A deficiency, which contributes to high rates of blindness, immune system disorders, and premature death in children and pregnant women in Africa.
Bouis, the founder of HarvestPlus at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), over a 25-year period pioneered the implementation of a multi-institutional approach to biofortification as a global plant breeding strategy. As a result of his leadership, crops such as iron and zinc fortified beans, rice, wheat and pearl millet, along with Vitamin A-enriched cassava, maize and OFSP are being tested or released in over 40 countries.
Bouis created the organization HarvestPlus in 2003 as a global multi-sector, multidisciplinary effort to improve nutrition and public health through bioforitfication. Under his leadership, a large partnership of plant breeders, agronomists, nutritionists, and economists have worked together to form one of the most successful initiatives to improve nutrition through changes in the food systems.
“At a time when malnutrition, stunting and early childhood death remain a scourge for millions on our planet, the four 2016 World Food Prize Laureates have uplifted the health and well being of more than 10 million persons through the biofortication of staple crops, particularly the vitamin fortified orange fleshed sweet potato, Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize said. “They have truly fulfilled the dictum attributed to Hippocrates from almost 2,400 years ago - to "Let Food Be Thy Medicine.”
The efforts of our 2016 World Food Prize Laureates have positively impacted over 10 million people through biofortified crops, with the potential of impacting and enhancing the nutrition and health of several hundred million more in the coming decades.
The World Food Prize award ceremony and Laureate address forms part of the annual Borlaug Dialogue, a premier food security conference held in downtown Des Moines that is taking place this week.
Three high level panels will take place tomorrow, following the theme of Let Food Be thy Medicine. These will include: The Challenge of Change: Engaging Public Universities to Feed the World, Women Leaders Driving Science and Innovation for Agricultural Transformation in Africa, and A Conversation with the 2016 World Food Prize Laureates.
Official events will culminate with the World Food Prize’s 22nd Anniversary Global Youth Institute taking place tomorrow, Saturday, October 15.
It was Dr. Borlaug’s dream to ensure a promising future for the world by inspiring the next generation of agricultural researchers and leaders. He and John Ruan Sr. established the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute 22 years ago, and today it is renowned and being held up by national STEM leaders as a model program to be replicated in all states. High school students select a country and food security topic, research it, and write an original paper presenting their own solutions, which they then present to global experts for feedback. Around 200 students from 30 U.S. states and territories and several foreign countries, and their teachers, are experiencing the opportunity to interact with visiting leaders and experts, participate in the symposium, package meals, tour agricultural facilities, and partake in an Oxfam Hunger Banquet over these three days. They will conclude with presentations of their papers tomorrow at Pioneer.
A full biography, photos and more information about the 2016 Laureates are available at https://www.worldfoodprize.org/en/laureates/2016__andrade_mwanga_low_and_bouis/.
ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE: The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The 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 41 outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions throughout the world. The World Food Prize annually hosts the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium and a variety of youth education programs to help further the discussion on cutting-edge global food security issues and inspire the next generation to end hunger. Press credentials for covering the World Food Prize Week of events can be requested at www.worldfoodprize.org/press.
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