Food! I love it! I might even have to admit that I’m obsessed with it. The fact is, I can’t live without it. Well, who can?
Food is probably one of the most talked-about topics. Just look online. Food is talked about all the time. Well, you don’t have to look that far (wink!). Point is, there is always someone, like me, talking about food.
I want to take advantage of this time to talk about the other side of food and that is the scarcity of it. In some parts of the world and even in our very own country, food is scarce. If it isn’t scarce, it just not that nutritious enough.
Somewhere in the United States, in Des Moines, Iowa (to be kind of exact) there is a foundation called the World Food Prize Foundation. If you haven’t heard about it, then it’s high time you should.
In case you don’t have the time to play the video, below is the transcript as told by Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation. Take a listen or take a look. It’s your choice. Point is, give it some of your time because it’s important.
What’s the World Food Prize?
First, the World Food Prize is a quarter-million-dollar award created by our founder, Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and probably the greatest agricultural scientist America has ever produced.
He created it to recognize and inspire those breakthrough achievements that will be needed in order to eradicate hunger and malnutrition from the face of the earth and feed the nine to ten billion people who will be on our planet by the year 2050 and we present that award every year at the Iowa State Capitol in a ceremony that causes international leaders to refer to it as the “Nobel Prize for food and agriculture.”
Secondly, the World Food Prize is a foundation, a nonprofit organization of ten persons located in Des Moines, Iowa, who operate the programs of the World Food Prize and carry out the process of selecting each year the individuals who become our laureate or laureates for their breakthrough achievements
Third, the World Food Prize is educational programs like the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium that we organize each October, on or around October 16, World Food Day around the globe, here in Des Moines, Iowa. We bring speakers and participants from 40 or 50 countries from around the globe and they all come to Des Moines for what has been called “the most significant and premier conference in the world on global agriculture.”
Next, we operate the Global Youth Institute, a program to inspire high school students, particularly those who don’t have any background in farming or agriculture to be involved in the science and technology, be involved in those issues that are going to decide and shape the fate of our planet in the next several decades.
Finally, the World Food Prize is the hall of laureates. This century-old building in Des Moines named in honor of Dr. Norman Borlaug that we have restored to be a museum, a meeting place, and our headquarters, Having achieved LEED Platinum Certification, the highest level of energy and resource conservation and efficiency possible.
All together… that’s what the World Food Prize is.
The 2019 World Food Prize was held a couple of days ago. For this year, the World Food Prize Laureate is Dr. Simon Groot. He is a renowned vegetable breeder from the Netherlands. You can learn more about him here.
He was given a hero’s welcome in Thailand and here in the Philippines as well.
Here is the whole program of the 2019 World Food Prize
If you want to see the whole list of the World Food Prize Laureates, click here.
I think it’s safe for me to say that the 2019 World Food Prize should be relevant to every Filipino. The fact that Dr. Simon Groot has done much of his work here in the Philippines through his company called East-West Seed, is a good enough reason for us to pay attention. However, there’s another valid reason. A Filipina shined through in the 2019 World Food Prize.
She was introduced in an interesting manner and I think every Filipino should either read or listen to the introduction below.
Below is the transcript of the introduction.
When Simon Groot arrived in the Philippines in the 1980s, the start of what would become the global vegetable seed revolution, was the time that represented the confluence of several other revolutions. Each with an interesting World Food Prize Connection.
At the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, the first World Food Prize Laureate, Dr. MS Swaminathan, was presiding over the continuation of the Green Revolution in rice, that had started under World Food Prize Laureate, Hank Beachell, and carried forward by Laureate Gurdev Khush …
At the same time, the People Power Revolution, led by President Corazon Aquino, turned out a dictator and dramatically returned the country to democratic rule. I was the Deputy U.S. Ambassador at the American Embassy supporting her mission at a very dangerous time and my family, my wife, Le Son, my three children … we were all there during that time.
And I was so proud, years later, President Aquino accepted my offer, my invitation to become a member of our World Food Prize Council of Advisors.
Then there was a revolution in music, as two Filipinas teenagers, Lea Salonga and Monique Wilson were chosen to play the lead in a new Broadway musical Miss Saigon.
My wife, Le Son and I, she’s sort of my Miss Saigon, we were married in Saigon, we joined in sending them off to Broadway in a reception at our Embassy.
So I ask myself, who could we find to bring all these things together and I was stymied til I talked to my daughter, Kelly. She lives in London and she told me there was this amazing singer from the Philippines, starring in Hamilton in London.
So, I got in touch with her and she has flown here to be with us tonight to recall all of those revolutions and to honor Simon Groot’s great achievement.
Tonight she will perform Bayan Ko to honor the late President Aquino, a medley of songs from her Broadway career, including the Movie in my Mind from Miss Saigon and in honor of our distinguished laureate, who has risen to the challenge of changing lives of millions of farmers in over 60 countries, she will close her program with the popular smash hit Rise Up.
Please welcome the international Broadway star, Rachel Ann Go.
Yes, that was how Rachel Ann Go was introduced and guess what? She got a standing ovation. If that’s not enough to get you interested in the World Food Prize, then I don’t what is.