2011 World Food Prize laureates

The 2011 World Food Prize laureates

Former presidents of the Republic of Ghana and Brazil are this year’s winners of the World Food Prize for their work to reduce by half the number of people in their countries who suffer from hunger.

Former Ghana President John Kufuor and former Brazil President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva were named this year’s World Food Prize laureates during a ceremony in Washington on this week. They will receive the award and split $250 000 at the official ceremony this fall in Des Moines, Iowa.

Iowa native Norman Borlaug established the food prize in 1986 to honour efforts to lessen global hunger. Borlaug, who won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize, died in 2009.

Kufuor and Silva both established programs in their countries that helped reach the United Nation’s Millennium Project’s goal of reducing hunger.

John Agyekum Kufuor
President, Republic of Ghana (2001-2009)

A guiding principle for President John Kufuor during the entirety of his two terms as president was to improve food security and reduce poverty through public- and private-sector initiatives. To that end, he implemented major economic and educational policies that increased the quality and quantity of food to Ghanaians, enhanced farmers’ incomes, and improved school attendance and child nutrition through a nationwide feeding program.

Under President Kufuor’s leadership, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to cut in half the proportion of its people who suffer from hunger, and the proportion of people living on less than a dollar per day, on course to achieve UN Millenium Development Goal 1 before the 2015 deadline. Continuing Ghana’s tradition of stability, President Kufuor prioritized national agricultural policies: Ghana saw a reduction in its poverty rate from 51.7 percent in 1991 to 26.5 percent in 2008, and hunger was reduced from 34 percent in 1990 down to 9 percent in 2004.

President Kufuor’s economic reforms, including the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy, provided incentives and strengthened public investments in the agricultural and food sector — the backbone of Ghana’s economy — which grew at a rate of 5.5 percent between 2003 and 2008. Growth in the agricultural sector drove expansion in the national economy, with GDP quadrupling to 8.4 percent by 2008.

Under President Kufuor, the Agricultural Extension Service was reactivated and special attention paid to educating farmers on best practices. As a result, Ghana’s cocoa production doubled between 2002 and 2005, and food crops such as maize, cassava, yams and plantains increased significantly, as did livestock production.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
President, Federative Republic of Brazil (2003-2010)

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made it clear even before he took office that fighting hunger and poverty would be a top priority of his government. He called upon all elements of Brazilian society to embrace his goal to ensure three meals a day for all citizens, to alleviate poverty, to enhance educational opportunities for children, and to provide greater inclusion of the poor in society.

President Lula da Silva’s national initiatives — embodied in his Zero Hunger strategy — were well aligned with the UN Millennium Development Goals. During his tenure, MDG 1 was exceeded before the 2015 deadline, as Brazil reduced by half its proportion of hungry people (with 93 percent of children and 82 percent of adults eating three meals a day) and also reduced the percentage of Brazilians living in extreme poverty, from 12 percent in 2003 down to 4.8 percent in 2009.

More than 10 government ministries were focused on the expansive Zero Hunger programs, which provided greater access to food, strengthened family farms and rural incomes, increased enrollment of primary school children, and empowered the poor. President Lula da Silva encouraged the participation of state and municipal governments together with the civil society and private sector, a strategy that was central to the rapid and significant decrease in the levels of poverty and hunger across the country.

Zero Hunger very quickly became one of the most successful food and nutritional security policies in the world through its broad network of programs, including: the Bolsa Familia Program; the Food Purchase Program; and the School Feeding Program.

The Bolsa Familia Program, set up to provide cash aid to poor families, has been a major factor in contributing to the reduction of poverty throughout the country. By 2009, more than 12 million beneficiary families — nearly a quarter of Brazil’s population — were guaranteed a minimum income and allowed access to basic goods and services.

Another important pillar of Zero Hunger was the Food Purchase Program, which linked local production directly with expanding food consumption and contributed to rural development by acquiring food directly from smallholder farmers. Distribution of food to poor families was through the public schools, community restaurants, assisted living facilities, day care centers, and related organizations.

Source: The World Food Prize