Saturday, July 9, 2016
Two Africans Among Four International Scientists to Win 30th Annual World Food Prize
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
June 28, 2016
Four distinguished international scientists – Maria Andrade, senior sweet potato breeder in Cape Verde; Howarth Bouis, founder and director of HarvestPlus from Washington, D.C.; Jan Low, sweet potato science leader from Denver, Colorado; and Robert Mwanga, sweet potato breeder in Uganda – were named winners of the 2016 World Food Prize today at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State.
United States Agency for International Development Administrator Gayle E. Smith delivered the keynote address at the ceremony, which honored the winners for collaborating to successfully implement a plant breeding approach to increase vitamins and minerals in staple crops, especially the orange-fleshed sweet potato. Their integrated application of biofortification, extension training, nutrition education, and marketing reduced malnutrition and improved the health of 10 million rural poor in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs Kurt Tong hosted the ceremony and Special Representative for Global Food Security Nancy Stetson delivered greetings from U.S. Secretary of State Kerry. World Food Prize Foundation President and former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Kenneth M. Quinn announced the names of the winners.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the $250,000 World Food Prize, which recognizes individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. This is the 13th year the State Department has hosted the prize’s laureate announcement.
The World Food Prize was established in 1986 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman E. Borlaug with the aim of focusing the world’s attention on the ongoing hunger crisis and on those whose work has significantly helped efforts to end it. Each year, more than 4,000 institutions and organizations around the world are invited to nominate candidates for the prize. The World Food Prize is guided by a distinguished Council of Advisors that includes former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush. More information, including biographies of the laureates, is available at www.worldfoodprize.org.
The award will be formally presented during the World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony on October 13 at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa.
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.