The World Food Prize Foundation has awarded this year’s top honor in food security to Heidi Kühn, founder of a nonprofit devoted to clearing landmines and growing needed crops on fields made safe. The announcement was made by World Food Prize Foundation President and U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad at a May 11 event held at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Also present were U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, and World Food Prize Foundation Chief Operating Officer Mashal Husain. Kühn herself was not present as she was busy overseeing landmine clearing in Azerbaijan.
Dubbed the Nobel Prize for food, the World Food Prize is awarded each year to individuals whom the Foundation says have made outstanding and long-lasting contributions toward enhancing food security and improving the lives of vulnerable populations. The World Food Prize comes with a $250,000 cash award and an awards ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa. Last year’s award went to Cynthia E. Rosenzweig, a former farmer who’s now a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The 2021 World Food Prize was awarded to Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted for her work in promoting small-scale aquaculture in developing countries.
Kühn founded Roots of Peace, a nonprofit launched in 1997 devoted to converting former minefields into farmers’ fields. Roots of Peace also helps train farmers on modern farming practices. Secretary of State Blinken said Kühn’s work essentially involves “turning fields of death into gardens of life.” He credited Kühn and Roots of Peace for mobilizing philanthropy, governments, and the private sector in joint efforts to eradicate landmines and make fields safe for farmers and civilians again. “By harnessing the collective power of governments, businesses, international organizations, Heidi’s nonprofit Roots of Peace has, as you heard, removed over 100,000 landmines,” Blinken said. “And not just removed them—this is what’s so extraordinarily powerful—restored the land that is now being used by over 1 million farmers across nine countries, helping to feed people and create economic opportunity.”
“This prestigious award underscores the importance of our mission to revitalize agriculture in post-conflict areas, as a means of healing both the land and its people,” Kühn said in a statement.
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