Irrigation expert named 2012 World Food Prize Laureate

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2012- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the 2012 World Food Prize Laureate is Daniel Hillel, an expert in irrigation systems and the developer of “micro-irrigation.”

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“In many regions of the world you know that water is either too scarce or unpredictable to sustain what we think of as regular agriculture,” Clinton said. “Dr. Hillel worked to solve this problem by bring micro-irrigation to the driest, most inhospitable regions of the Earth.”

She outlined the global strains on water use and agricultural production, noting that the latest estimates reveal the world will need to produce 60 percent more food to feed a population that will reach nine billion by 2050.

“We use more water for agriculture than for any other human pursuit,” she said, noting that it takes one liter of water to produce one calorie of food.

“Demand for water to grow food will rise 20 percent,” she said. “If we're going to strengthen food security we have to get more out of each drop. Dr. Hillel's work is becoming even more important as we grapple with feeding a growing world population.”

Hillel, a California native raised in the Middle East, developed a micro-irrigation system, which applies small, continuous amounts of water to plant roots to boost productivity and conserve water.  A joint U.S. and Israeli citizen, his work in soil and water management is recognized in more than 30 countries.

“When we strengthen food security we create a stronger base for our efforts to promote human development, dignity and security worldwide,” Clinton added during today's announcement in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the U.S. Department of State. 

Clinton said the World Food Prize provides an opportunity to recognize “those who are truly making a difference.” She noted the work of USDA for taking “everything we know from science and research and translate it into results on the ground.”

The World Food Prize events in Des Moines, Iowa, on October 18 will honor Hillel as the new laureate. The founder of the prize, Norman Borlaug, envisioned the World Food Prize as the Nobel Prize for agriculture.


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