Four research scientists were announced as 2016 World Food Prize Laureates. They are Drs. Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga, Jan Low and Howarth Bouis. The four scientists are given credit for already improving the health of 10 million rural poor in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and that will increase to 100s of million more in the future. 

The winners were announced Tuesday during a ceremony at the U.S. State Department. USAID Administrator Gayle Smith gave keynote remarks.

“These four extraordinary World Food Prize Laureates have proven that science matters, and that when matched with dedication, it can change people’s lives,” said Smith.

The four winners will equally split a $250,000 prize. They won the award because of their work in countering world hunger through developing and breeding biofortified staple crops with "critical vitamins and micronutrients."

Three of the 2016 Ph.D. laureates-- Andrade, Mwanga and Low have worked with the International Potato Center (CIP), which has had sweetpotato in its research mandate since 1988. The winners are being honored for their work "developing the single most successful example of biofortification--the orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP).  Andrade and Mwanga, plant scientists in Mozambique and Uganda, bred the Vitamin A-enriched OFSP using genetic material from CIP and other sources, while Low, it was explained, 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 is the founder of HarvestPlus at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). He has spent more than 25 years pioneering "the implementation of a multi-institutional approach to biofortificatoin as a global plant breeding strategy," it was noted. 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 more than 40 countries.

In announcing the names of the 2016 Laureates, during this 30th anniversary of the World Food Prize being established, Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize, noted “they are truly worthy to be named as the recipients of the award that Dr. Norman E. Borlaug created to be seen as the Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture.” The World Food Prize was formed by the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug. 

“The impact of the work of all four winners will be felt around the globe, but particularly in sub Saharan Africa,” Quinn added. “It is particularly poignant that among our 2016 recipients are two African scientists who are working on solutions to tackle malnutrition in Africa, for Africa.”

The awards officially will be presented at a ceremony that will be held in the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, Iowa, on the evening of Oct. 13, 2016. The event is advertised as the centerpiece of the annual international symposium entitled the Borlaug Dialogue, which regularly draws more 1,200 people from 60 countries to discuss issues in global food security. 

Visit www.worldfoodprize.org for more information.