The World Food Prize Foundation

Remarks: 2019 Laureate Announcement Ceremony


As Prepared for Delivery by Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn

Thank you Secretary Singh for your extremely kind introduction. Knowing that your father studied under our founder Dr. Norman Borlaug adds particular meaning to this event.

Secretary Pompeo, on behalf of my wife Le Son, Dr. Gebisa Ejeta, the Chair of our Laureate Selection Committee, and his wife Senait, I want to express our great appreciation to you for hosting our ceremony here in the Benjamin Franklin Room, the same room where I began my Foreign Service career 52 years ago.

To my fellow Ambassadors, as well as members of the diplomatic corps we are greatly honored by your presence.  I also want to recognize former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman and our World Food Prize / USDA Wallace-Carver Fellows. Undersecretary McKinney please thank Secretary Sonny Perdue for this special partnership we have to inspire these exceptional college age students.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug created the World Food Prize in 1986 with the goal that it would come to be seen as the Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture.

Over the past 33 years, 48 individuals from 18 countries have been named recipients of our annual $250,000 award.  The 2019 World Food Prize will go to an individual from a 19th country- -the Netherlands- - and in a new category - - vegetable seeds.

Our new Laureate, a sixth-generation seedsman, had observed the many challenges facing smallholder farmers in Southeast Asia, as they struggled to grow a good vegetable crop with low-quality, poorly adapted seeds. This resulted in low yields, which translated into poverty and malnutrition.

Our recipient saw a way to break this vicious cycle through diversification into high value vegetable crops. And so, in 1982, at age 47, he left a position in a Dutch based seed company to move to the Philippines. There our Laureate discovered a partner - - the late Benito Domingo. Together, they established the company East-West Seed.

Our Laureate began developing new vegetable varieties with enhanced disease resistance and significantly higher yields. As the use of these seeds spread throughout the Philippines to Thailand, Indonesia and across Southeast Asia, farmers’ daily lives were uplifted and consumers benefited from greater access to more nutritious vegetables.

Over the next four decades, our Laureate led the development of the modern, high quality vegetable seed industry. His company now reaches into 60 countries around the world, a stunningly impactful global network of seed producers who are transforming the lives of 20 million farmers every year and improving the well-being of millions and millions of consumers.

It is my great pleasure to announce that the 2019 World Food Prize Laureate, the person who led this extraordinary global transformational achievement - - this vegetable seed revolution - - is Mr. Simon N. Groot.

I am so pleased that the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Dutch Embassy, Her Excellency Heleen Bakker is present. As this brochure indicates, Mr. Groot will receive the World FoodPrize at a ceremony in Des Moines, on October 17. I invite all of you to join us at our Borlaug Dialogue International symposium, the theme of which is Pax Agricultura: Peace Through Agriculture. “

Ladies and Gentlemen, It is now my great personal privilege to introduce the Secretary of State, the Honorable Mike Pompeo.

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