At the U.S. Department of Agriculture this past week, two winners of the World Food Prize were announced. Officially titled the 2018 World Food Prize Laureates, the honor goes to Lawrence Haddad and David Nabarro, who have done tremendous work to bring child malnutrition to a global conversation that resulted in 10 million fewer stunted children in the span of just five years.
Their work was complementary to the single cause of boosting child nutrition, however, the two never worked together.
It began in 2007, when there was a rapid and drastic increase in wheat, maize and rice prices. This prompted both doctors to act.
As an economist, Haddad highlighted economic and medical research to sway leaders and policy makers in elevating the problem of child malnutrition. He did this in the United Kingdom, Ireland and other countries, while Nabarro focused on the same issues in his role at the United Nation’s Scaling Up Nutrition Movement. Due to Nabarro’s work, 54 countries and one Indian state implemented policies, and “agriculture and food went from being a low priority issue to mainstream,” the World Food Prize Foundation said.
Both Haddad and Nabarro’s efforts led to better nutrition for both mothers and children in the first 1,000 days of the child’s life, which are well-known to be a critical development period.
Haddad said, “Improved nutrition is not just a nice outcome of the development process, but a big driver of economic growth,” adding that well-nourished children are less likely to be in poverty.
“If you don’t invest in nutrition at a very early age, you’re killing off consumer base and you’re killing off your future economic workforce,” Haddad said. “Research helped make nutrition be seen as an economic issue, not just a health issue.”
“Like Dr. Norman Borlaug before them, Drs. Haddad and Nabarro have dedicated their careers to reducing hunger and malnutrition. Their work has deepened our understanding of nutrition’s impact not only on individual health, but on human capital and economic growth—compelling leaders in countries across the world to invest in evidence-based solutions,” said Bill Gates, who is also a big proponent of agriculture and food research to reduce hunger and malnutrition.
The actual prize in the World Food Prize is $250,000, which the two men will split. Started in 1986 by Norman Borlaug, the World Food Prize is the “the most prominent global award recognizing an individual who has enhanced human development and confronted hunger by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world,” according to the World Food Prize Foundation website.
Several high profile names in Washington agriculture were present for the event, including USDA Trade Under Secretary Ted McKinney and Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Bill Northey.
The next World Food Prize ceremony will take place in Des Moines, Iowa, in October at the three-day Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, where global food security issues will be discussed at length.
Editor’s note: Seymour Klierly writes Washington Whispers for the Journal from inside the Beltway.