Soil scientist Dr. Rattan Lal
The World Food Prize is an international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. The prize has been awarded annually to recognize contributions in any field involved in the world food supply: Animal Science/Aqua Culture, Soil Science/Water/Conservation, Nutrition/Health, Plant Science/Seed Science, Plant Pathology/Crop Protection, Food Technology/Food Safety, Policy/Research/Extension, Infrastructure/Emergency Relief, & Poverty Alleviation/Hunger. The World Food Prize is considered equivalent to the Nobel Prize in the field of Agriculture, and the recipient is awarded $250,000 for improving the quality and availability of food.
“This year 2020, Indian- American Soil scientist Dr. Rattan Lal wins prestigious World Food Prize.”An alumnus of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and Indian Agricultural Research Institute,New Delhi and a renowned agricultural soil scientist from Ohio State University (OSU). Dr.Lal has been named as this year’s recipient of the World Food Prize for developing and mainstreaming a soil-centric approach to increasing food production that conserves natural resources and mitigates climate change.
The World Food Prize Foundation President Barbara Stinson announced Lal as the winner in an online ceremony in Washington DC ,Thursday 11 June. The ceremony featured pre-recorded remarks from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
“The unbound joy and excitement of receiving the 2020 World Food Prize reminds me about the gratitude, privilege and honour of working for farmers from around the world ” Dr. Lal said.
Dr. Lal’s model indicates that restoring soil health can lead to multiple benefits by the year 2100, including more than doubling the global annual grain yield to feed the growing world population, while decreasing the land area under grain cultivation by 30 per cent and decreasing fertiliser use by half. His research led a better understanding of how no-till farming, cover crops, crop residues, mulching, and agroforestry can restore degraded soils, increasing organic matter by sequestering atmospheric carbon in the soil, and help combat rising carbon dioxide levels in the air.
“Dr Lal’s research in soil science shows that the solution to this problem is right under our feet. He’s helping the earth’s estimated 500 million small farmers be faithful stewards of their land through improved management, less soil degradation, and the recycling of nutrients. The billions of people who depend on these farms stand to benefit greatly from his work. “- Secretary Pompeo.
The World Food Prize was established by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman E Borlaug in 1986.The first recipient of this award was Indian Agricultural Scientist Dr. M. S. Swaminathan in 1987,regarded as “Father of India’s Green Revolution.