DES MOINES, IA. Oct. 19, 2012 – Over 700 farmers, business leaders, and dignitaries from around the globe gathered in the Iowa Capitol last night to honor an Israeli-American scientist who pioneered an innovative way of bringing water to crops in arid and dry-land regions.
Dr. Daniel Hillel, winner of the 2012 World Food Prize, revolutionized food production through a process known as micro-irrigation. The method allows for more efficient use of water resources, enabling farmers in arid regions of the world to produce what he describes as “more crop per drop.”
“We must intensify production while enhancing and not degrading the resource, upon which we and our successors must rely,” Hillel noted in accepting the award during last night’s gala ceremony.
Born in the United States but raised in Israel, Dr. Hillel was first drawn to the critical issue of agriculture and water scarcity during his days living in the highlands of the Negev Desert, according to the World Food Prize.
The World Food Prize, founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, annually honors outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Although the winner was announced in June, the award ceremony and $250,000 check was presented last night.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon praised Hillel for his work, saying his work “started as a technical innovation, but it has made a signal contribution to global harmony, stability and peace,” according to his prepared remarks on the United Nations News Centre.
“Instead of waiting for a rainstorm, he had a brainstorm,” Ban said.
Work like Hillel’s is necessary to tackle the food insecurity and hunger challenges facing that is being experienced in many parts of the world, Ban emphasized.
Last week, three U.N food agencies – the Food and Agriculture organization, the World Food Programme, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development – jointly released the latest “State of Food Insecurity Report.” It found that 870 million people are undernourished.
“In our world of plenty, no one should live in hunger,” Ban said. “No child should have his growth stunted by malnutrition. No child should have her opportunity for a better life curtailed even before she is born because her mother was undernourished.”
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