Drs. Maria Andrade, Howarth Bouis, Jan Low and Robert Mwanga were awarded the 30th annual World Food Prize last week before an international audience at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines.
Three of the 2016 laureates were honored for their work in developing the vitamin A-enriched orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP). Dr. Andrade and Dr. Mwanga, plant scientists in Mozambique and Uganda, bred the OFSP using genetic material from the International Potato Center and other sources, while Dr. Low structured the nutrition studies and programs that convinced almost two million households in 10 separate African countries to plant, purchase and consume this nutritionally fortified food.
Bouis, the founder of HarvestPlus at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), over a 25-year period pioneered the implementation of a multi-institutional approach to biofortification as a global plant breeding strategy. As a result of his leadership, crops such as iron and zinc fortified beans, rice, wheat and pearl millet, along with Vitamin A-enriched cassava, maize and OFSP are being tested or released in over 40 countries.
Bouis created the organization HarvestPlus in 2003 as a global multi-sector, multidisciplinary effort to improve nutrition and public health through bioforitfication. Under his leadership, a large partnership of plant breeders, agronomists, nutritionists, and economists have worked together to form one of the most successful initiatives to improve nutrition through changes in the food systems.
“At a time when malnutrition, stunting and early childhood death remain a scourge for millions on our planet, the four 2016 World Food Prize Laureates have uplifted the health and well being of more than 10 million persons through the biofortication of staple crops, particularly the vitamin fortified orange fleshed sweet potato, Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize said. “They have truly fulfilled the dictum attributed to Hippocrates from almost 2,400 years ago – to “Let Food Be Thy Medicine.”
Official events surrounding the 2016 World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium concluded on Saturday with the 22nd Anniversary Global Youth Institute.