Press release

World Food Prize for four outstanding researchers

Published on
October 18, 2016

At the World Food Prize & Borlaug Dialogue Symposium from 12 – 14 October in Des Moines, Iowa, United States Prof. Louise Fresco participated as a member of the council for advisors who have the honorary responsibility to nominate the laureates for the World Food Prize. This alternative Nobel prize for Agriculture & Food was initiated by Nobel prize winner Norman Borlaug, born in Des Moines.

This year, it was a special ceremony with four laureates awarded with the World Food Prize. 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.

Three of the 2016 laureates - Dr. Maria Andrade (PhD in plant breeding and sweet potato specialist), Jan Low (alumna Cornell University), and Robert Mwanga (International Potato Center, CIP, a Kenyan CGIAR research centre, which has had sweet potatoes in its research mandate since 1988) - are being honoured 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 ten separate African countries to plant, purchase and consume this nutritionally fortified food. Dr. Howarth Bouis, 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 orange flashed sweet potatoes are being tested or released in over forty countries.

Borlaug Dialogue

On Friday 14th October, four presidents of leading agricultural universities shared their views on The Challenge of Change: Engaging Public Universities to Feed the World.

Gebisa Ejeta – 2009 World Food Prize Laureate, Louise O. Fresco – President & Chairman Executive Board, Wageningen University & Research, Steven Leath – President, Iowa State University, M. Peter McPherson – President, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and chaired by Randy Woodson – Chancellor, North Carolina State University.
Gebisa Ejeta: ”It’s a global agenda that requires global partnerships from farmers to bright minds at universities”.

Louise O. Fresco: “We need to open up even more, mobilize people and utilize science for impact. The Wageningen University & Research model is to be an example of partnerships in the triangle industry - governments -universities, and adding to that institutions and NGO’s”.

Throughout the week, many activities took place at the Borlaug Dialogue: discussions in the main programme, side events on all topics related to global food security took place, given by professionals in the field, ranging from universities, corporate, CG’s, NGO’s, foundations and the like.

Norman E. Borlaug is Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 1970. Borlaug believed in investing in young talented people who want to contribute to global food & agriculture topics. The Borlaug philosophy continues to invest in young bright people, with the Borlaug Youth Institute. Each year around 200 exceptional high school students from countries worldwide are selected to participate in the three-day Global Youth Institute hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation.