Former Brazil Minister of Agriculture Alysson Paolinelli, former Technical Director of EMBRAPA Cerrado Research Center Edson Lobato of Brazil, and Washington Representative of the IRI Research Institute A. Colin McClung of the United States have been named recipients of the 2006 World Food Prize. They are being honored for their work in soil science and policy implementation that helped transform Brazil's Cerrado--a region of vast, infertile tropical high plains named from Portuguese words meaning "closed, inaccessible land"--into highly productive crop land.
The $250,000 World Food Prize will be presented this October in a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. The World Food Prize was established in 1986 by Dr. Borlaug, who is credited with saving one billion lives as the "father of the Green Revolution." Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, it was created to be the foremost international award for achievements that significantly increase the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. It is often referred to as "the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture."
"Each of the 2006 World Food Prize recipients played a vital role in transforming the Cerrado into an agricultural powerhouse," said Quinn. "Though they worked independently of one another, in different decades and in different fields, their collective efforts over the past 50 years have unlocked Brazil's tremendous potential for food production. Their pioneering advancements made agricultural development possible in the Cerrado."
Dr. McClung's pioneering soil fertility research in the 1950s analyzed the complexity of Cerrado soils and showed that a transformation of the region was possible. His work uncovered an innovative soil improvement process to correct the drastic nutrient depletion of the Cerrado and counteract aluminum toxicity in the region's highly acidic soils, concluding that the Cerrado could be made suitable for production of crops as diverse as coffee, soybeans, citrus and corn.
Beginning his career as Secretary of Agriculture in the state of Minas Gerais in the early 1970s, Alysson Paolinelli created a new model for rural credit and other development programs. He envisioned and oversaw the creation of the institutional and financial infrastructure that enabled crop and livestock production to flourish in the Cerrado. As Minister of Agriculture from 1974 to 1979, he was instrumental in establishing the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) to provide a system of technical, administrative and research support to farmers and agribusinesses.
Edson Lobato was a leader in evaluating and carrying out studies of Cerrado soil fertility and agricultural production. During the course of his 30-year career as an agronomy engineer and administrator at EMBRAPA, Lobato led Cerrado soil fertility and agronomy research as it expanded to include soil microbiology, soil management, and crop management.
The World Food Prize will be formally presented at a ceremony on October 19, 2006 at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. The ceremony will be held as part of the World Food Prize International Symposium, entitled "The Green Revolution Redux: Can We Replicate the Single Greatest Period of Food Production in All Human History?" Further information about the Symposium and Laureate Award Ceremony is available at www.worldfoodprize.org.
The World Congress of Soil Science is held from July 9-15 in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and feature presentations by soil scientists from around the world on such topics as climate change, soils and health, urban planning, crop production, hazardous waste, and more. The World Congress of Soil Science is a unique international event held in a different city every four years (last held in the U.S. in 1960). For more information, go to: www.18wcss.org.
The World Food Prize was conceived by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since 1986, The World Food Prize has honored outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Previous Laureates have been recognized from Bangladesh, China, Cuba, Denmark, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States. In 1990, Des Moines businessman and philanthropist John Ruan assumed sponsorship of The Prize and established The World Food Prize Foundation, located in Des Moines, Iowa.