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6/19/2020 12:09:21 AM
Dr. Parveen Kumar, Dr. D. Namgyal

Also known as the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture, the ‘World Food Prize’ is an international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have ensured food and nutritional security of the peoples across the globe by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. Since 1987, the prize has been awarded annually The award was conceived by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug, the prize emphasizes the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people. Borlaug saw the prize as a means of establishing role models who would inspire others.
The World Food Prize is the foremost international honor recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. It is an annual award that recognizes contributions in any field involved in the world food supply including plant, animal and soil science; food science and technology; nutrition, rural development, etc. It is open for any individual without regard to race, religion, nationality or political beliefs. In addition to the cash award of $2, 50, 000, the laureate receives a sculpture designed by the noted artist and designer, Saul Bass. The Prize is presented each October on or around UN World Food Day (16th October). It is presented by the World Food Prize Foundation which has over 80 companies, individuals, etc. as donors.
In 1985, Norman Borlaug met with the chief executive of General Foods Corporation, James Fergusen and expressed his long standing desire for the establishment of a major prize for agriculture. The idea of a prize was met favorably by the Senior General Foods Management, but they expanded the scope of the prize to include all of the links of the food chain from farm to table. General Foods Corporation organized a prize management structure and in 1986 announced the founding of the General Foods World Food Prize. This prize was funded solely by the General Foods Fund for the first four years of its existence and partially funded by the General Foods Fund and other contributors in the fifth year. Since 1990, the World Food Prize has been sponsored by businessman and philanthropist, John Ruan. The World Food Prize Laureates are honored and officially awarded their prize in Des Moines, Iowa, in a televised award ceremony held in the House Chamber of the Iowa State Capitol.
The Award Ceremony coincides with the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium, known as the Borlaug Dialogue, which addresses an issue related to hunger and food security each year. In 2008, the World Food Prize Foundation received a $5 million contribution from Monsanto to ensure the continuation of the annual World Food Prize International Symposium ‘Borlaug Dialogue’.
In 1987, the living legend of Indian Agriculture M. S. Swaminathan received the prize for his contribution in introducing high yielding wheat and rice varieties to India resulting in green revolution. This green revolution made the country a bread basket. In 1989, Dr. Varghese Kurien the founder of operation flood movement which made the country largest producer of milk in the world received the prestigious prize. In 1996, the award was given to Dr. Gurdev Khush along with Dr, Henry Beachell of United States for developing miracle rice varieties that doubled rice production in Asia. In 1998, Dr. B. R. Barwale founder of Mahyco seeds received the award for strengthening seed supply and distribution to the masses throughout India. In the year 2000, Dr. Surinder K. Vasal along with Dr. Evangelina of Mexico were conferred this prize for developing High Quality Protein Maize (QPM). In 2005, Dr. Modadugu Vijay Gupta was bestowed this prize for development and dissemination of low cost techniques for fresh water fish farming using Tilapia species by rural poor.
The ‘World Food Prize’ for the year 2020 has been awarded to the son of soil, a Soil Scientist. Announcing the World Food Prize, the World Food Prize president Foundation president Barbara Stinson declared Dr. Rattan Lal as the recipient of this year’s Nobel prize of Agriculture in an online ceremony from Washington on June 11. An alumnus of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and a renowned agricultural soil scientist from Ohio State University (OSU), Dr. Lal has many first to his credit. While welcoming the announcement of Dr. Lal for this prestigious prize, PAU Vice-Chancellor Dr B S Dhillon, in a statement, said PAU may be the only institution in the world to have two alumni as World Food Laureates. The honour was earlier won by PAU alumnus Dr Gurdev Singh Khush, a plant breeder and pioneer in rice genetics. He had won this award in 1996 for his excellence in developing new rice varieties and ushering green revolution in rice farming. Dr Lal was born in Karyal in erstwhile Punjab (now in Pakistan). He was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Science by PAU in 2001. He played a major role in developing and mainstreaming a soil-centric approach to increasing food production that conserves natural resources and mitigates climate change. Three separate United Nations Climate Change Conferences have adopted his strategy of restoring soil health as a means to sequestering carbon. In 2007, he was among those recognized with a Nobel Peace Prize Certificate for his contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, when the IPCC was named co-recipient of the Nobel Prize.
Dr Rattan Lal did his graduation (B. Sc in agriculture) from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in 1963, M. Sc (soils) in 1965 from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) and PhD (soils) in 1968 from Ohio State University. A professor of Soil Science at Ohio State University, he is also the founding director of the university’s Carbon Management and Sequestration Center. The president of the World Food Prize Foundation Barbara Stinson, while announcing him as the winner, termed Dr Lal as ‘trailblazer in soil science with a prodigious passion for research that improves soil health, enhances agricultural production, improves the nutritional quality of food, restores the environment and mitigates climate change’. Dr Lal’s research in the 1990s revealed that restoring degraded soils through increasing soil carbon and organic matter not only improved soil health, but helped combat rising carbon dioxide levels in the air by sequestering atmospheric carbon. He provided leadership to a range of soil restoration projects in Asia, Africa and Latin America, integrating no-till farming and use of cover crops, mulching and agro-forestry to protect soil, conserve water and return back nutrients, carbon and organic matter in the soil. Dr. Lal also researched on wider use of soil conservation measures focused on soil health in developed countries.
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