World Food Prize and 2016 World Food Prize Winners
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
June 28, 2016
The 2016 World Food Prize laureates were announced at a ceremony at the Department of State June 28. 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 World Food Prize emphasizes the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people.
The Four 2016 World Food Prize Winners Are: Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga, Jan Low, and Howarth Bois.
Maria Andrade began her research in 1997 in Mozambique using sweet potato genetic material from North Carolina State University and the International Potato Center in Peru. By 2014, more than 1 million orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) seeds were distributed to 11 other countries in Africa.
Robert Mwanga’s OFSP research in Uganda resulted in the orange-fleshed sweet potato largely replacing the white sweet potato, which contains very low or no Vitamin A. He combined higher yield traits with virus tolerance, blight resistance, and palatable taste, which increased adoption of OFSP varieties among farmers. By 2014, more than 30 percent of Uganda’s farmers were growing his varieties.
Jan Low conducted nutritional studies among poor African communities in 2005 demonstrating that consumption of OFSP led to a 15 percent decline in Vitamin A deficiency in children who consumed OFSP regularly compared to children who did not. She is leading a project, “Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative” (2009—2019), with the goal to favorably position sweet potatoes in the food economies of 17 African countries to reduce child malnutrition and improve smallholder incomes.
The fourth World Food Prize Laureate, Howarth Bouis, harnessed the enormous power of agricultural science to improve human nutrition through his innovative leadership in bringing together agronomists, plant breeders, nutritionists, and economists to breed and disseminate new high yielding nutritious, biofortified staple food crops in more than 30 countries. By 2014, biofortification was improving the health of 2 million farm families, with more than 100 million people projected to benefit by 2018.
The 2016 World Food Prize Laureates developed and implemented biofortification to increase vitamins and minerals in staple crops through conventional breeding methods. Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga, and Jan Low Andrade, Mwanga, and Low developed disease-resistant, drought-tolerant, high yielding varieties of the Vitamin A-rich OFSP that appeal to rural families in Sub-Saharan Africa and can survive in the variable soils and climate conditions that exist in the region. Their multi-year effort has reduced malnutrition, prevented blindness and improved overall health by providing critical micronutrients in the diets of millions of rural poor in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Andrade, Mwanga, and Low developed seven biofortified crops in all – iron and zinc fortified beans, rice, wheat and pearl millet; and Vitamin A-rich cassava, maize, and orange-fleshed sweet potato. These crops have been released in 30 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and another ten countries are testing varieties of these crops.
Andrade, Mwanga, and Low also showed true talent in marketing. They created a campaign called “the sweet that gives health” to brand the color orange as a sign of healthy Vitamin A-rich foods. The Laureates will receive their $250,000 award during the World Food Prize ceremony in October at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the prize.
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