World Food Prize Honors Former Presidents of Ghana, Brazil

World Food Prize Honors Former Presidents of Ghana, Brazil

Iowa-based World Food Prize Foundation is awarding this year's honor to two leaders who illustrate how top-level leadership and sustained commitment can dramatically reduce hunger.

Two former presidents who led the drastic reduction of hunger and poverty in their countries were named the winners of the 2011 World Food Prize in a ceremony at the U.S. State Department on June 21 in Washington, D.C.

The World Food Prize Foundation, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, is honoring John Agyekum Kufuor, former president of Ghana, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil, for creating and implementing government policies that alleviated hunger and poverty in their countries. They were commended in remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah.

"President Kufuor and President Lula da Silva have set a powerful example for other political leaders in the world," said Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize, in making the announcement. "Thanks to their personal commitment and visionary leadership, both Ghana and Brazil are on track to exceed the UN Millennium Development Goal – to cut in half extreme hunger before 2015." 

Battle to end hunger was Iowan Norman Borlaug's lifelong pursuit

"The battle to end hunger was Dr. Borlaug's lifelong pursuit, and remains one of the great challenges of our day, requiring both a worldwide commitment to innovation and investment in agriculture, as well as country and local strategies," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Presidents Kufuor and Lula da Silva have advanced food security for their people by pursuing innovative policies and programs, and their leadership and work stand as a model to all nations working to meet the moral imperative of feeding the world."

"President Kufuor and President Lula da Silva have set the gold standard for presidential leadership in tackling the global challenges of poverty and hunger," said Administrator Rajiv Shah. "By helping train the next generation of forward-thinking leaders, we can build upon the legacy of Norman Borlaug and the work of this year's World Food Prize laureates to deliver meaningful results in food security and nutrition for people in developing countries across the world."

Under President Kufuor's leadership, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to cut in half the proportion of its people who suffer from hunger, and the proportion of people living on less than a dollar per day, on course to meet UN Millenium Development Goal 1. Continuing Ghana's tradition of stability, President Kufuor prioritized national agricultural policies: Ghana saw a reduction in its poverty rate from 51.7% in 1991 to 26.5% in 2008, and hunger was reduced from 34% in 1990 down to 9% in 2004.

The work of these two laureates serves as an inspiration to everyone

A guiding principle for President John Kufuor during the entirety of his two terms as president of the Republic of Ghana (2001-2009) was to improve food security and reduce poverty through public- and private-sector initiatives. To that end, he implemented major economic and educational policies that increased the quality and quantity of food to Ghanaians, enhanced farmers' incomes, and improved school attendance and child nutrition through a nationwide feeding program. 

President Lula da Silva made it clear, even before he took office as president of Brazil in 2003, that fighting hunger and poverty would be a top priority of his government. More than 10 government ministries were focused on the expansive Zero Hunger programs, which provided greater access to food, strengthened family farms and rural incomes, increased enrollment of primary school children, and empowered the poor. Zero Hunger very quickly became one of the most successful food and nutritional security policies in the world through its broad network of programs, including: the Bolsa Familia Program; the Food Purchase Program; and the School Feeding Program.

Over the eight years of his administration, President Lula da Silva's commitment and vision achieved dramatic reductions in hunger, extreme poverty and social exclusion, thereby greatly enhancing the lives of Brazil's people. During his tenure, UN Millennium Development Goal 1 was exceeded as Brazil reduced by half its proportion of hungry people, with 93% of children and 82% of adults eating three meals a day, and also reduced the percentage of Brazilians living in extreme poverty from 12% in 2003 down to 4.8% in 2009.

25th anniversary World Food Prize to be held Oct. 13 in Des Moines

These two leaders will be formally awarded the World Food Prize at the 25th Anniversary Laureate Award Ceremony at the Iowa State Capital in Des Moines on October 13, 2011. It will be held in conjunction with the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium in Des Moines, which this year is themed "The Next Generation: Confronting the Hunger Challenges of Tomorrow."

The World Food Prize was created in 1987 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug, who was raised on a farm near Cresco, Iowa, and went on to become a renowned plant breeder. Borlaug created the World Food Prize to recognize individuals who have contributed landmark achievements in increasing the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

2011 winners released these statements regarding their selection:

"l am overjoyed that in this time of increasing food crisis around the world, l should be adjudged as deserving of this great award for the role l played in boosting agriculture in my country, Ghana, during my tenure as President," said President Kufuor.

"I am convinced that what was important during my administration was the result of the partnership with the Brazilian population," said former president Lula da Silva. "I am really moved to know Brazil was chosen as a country that achieved good policies regarding agriculture and hunger. Brazil has a lot to show in the area of food security. And we want to share our experience with other countries, especially with African countries and poor countries in Latin America, both our technical knowledge, and from the point of view of food productivity and distribution."

Full biographies and more information is available at www.worldfoodprize.org/laureates.

ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE:  The World Food 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 outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Laureates have been recognized from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Denmark, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States.

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