World Food Prize Goes to Micro-Irrigation Expert

Oct 19, 2012 04:48 AM EDT | By Sharon Robinson

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Ban Ki-Moon
Ban Ki-Moon, at the World Food Prize Ceremony, stressed the importance of coming up with new approaches to improving food security. (Photo : Economic Forum)

This year's World Food Prize was won by Dr. Daniel Hillel. The U.N. awarded him for recognition of his efforts with micro-irrigation, which helps water fields in regions with low levels of water.

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U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon praised this year's winner Hillel for his work, saying that it "has transcended boundaries to help millions of farmers grow more crop per drop of water in some of the driest places on earth."

Hillel's drip irrigation system is "making the desert bloom" on six million hectares of arid land in more than 30 countries, the U.N. chief noted. "His achievement started as a technical innovation, but it has made a signal contribution to global harmony, stability and peace," he said, according to the U.N. News Centre.

The micro-irrigation system also results in considerably less damage to the environment than any other irrigation method and is also seen to increase yields.

The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 and has since recognized efforts by individuals from all parts of the world.

The Secretary General also took the opportunity to stress that food insecurity is on the rise all over the world, thanks to several factors, including drought. He also stressed that the current crisis faced by the global food supply is different from the 2008 food crisis because of the steps nations have taken to protect their food supplies.

"We have learned important lessons. More countries have put safety nets in place. There has been less panic buying, and fewer trade restrictions," Ban said. "Nations are also investing more in agriculture, and strengthening international cooperation."

He also mentioned several projects that the UN has been undertaking to protect food insecure countries, including the Zero Hunger Challenge, have significantly lent to the improvement of food security in several countries. The stress on improving global food security was underlined by the recent release of the UN FAO's State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 (SOFI). The report revealed that around 870 million people the world over go hungry, of which 842 million live in developing nations.

Hillel's new mode of irrigation is likely to make waves all over the world and may help improve irrigation methods and yields.

The World Food Prize ceremony, however, was marred slightly by Occupy Protesters. They were protesting against the role played by big agri-businesses in agriculture. They believe that agri-businesses are purely motivated by profit rather than food security.

According to reports, more than five were arrested at Des Moines, Iowa, outside the venue of the World Food Price Ceremony.



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