Dr. Daniel Hillel (82), a water and soil scientist from Haifa, is the winner of this year's annual World Food Prize, awarded by The World Food Prize Foundation. Dr. Hillel was awarded the prize for his contribution to the development of irrigation methods in dry regions. The prize, worth $250,000, will be presented to Dr. Hillel in October.
The World Food Prize Foundation is an American organization founded in 1987 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug. It recognizes people who have contributed to increasing the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
The award of the prize to Dr. Hillel was announced at a ceremony today at the US State Department, at which Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered the keynote address.
"Water has been a very big topic of concern here in the State Department," Clinton said. "We have tried to focus our government’s attention and the world’s attention on the importance of getting ahead of what will be a devastating water crisis if we are not smarter and more purposeful in addressing the problems now. It’s especially fitting that we honor today someone who has made such contributions because he understood the critical role that water plays in agriculture and the importance of getting every last drop used efficiently."
In announcing the name of the recipient, Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, said, “This year we honor Dr. Daniel Hillel, a scientist from Israel, for his pioneering work in the Middle East that revolutionized food production in that region and around the world. Dr. Hillel laid the foundation for maximizing efficient water usage in agriculture through a method known as micro-irrigation, which has impacted millions of lives."
Quinn emphasized the importance not only of Dr. Hillel’s scientific achievement but also his dedication to working with people across borders, to help improve food security for all.
"Confronting hunger can bring diverse people together across even the broadest political, ethnic, religious or diplomatic differences," Quinn said. “Dr. Hillel's work and motivation has been to bridge such divisions and to promote peace and understanding in the Middle East by advancing a breakthrough achievement addressing a problem that so many countries share in common: water scarcity. It is significant that Dr. Hillel’s nomination for the World Food Prize contained letters of support from individuals and organizations in Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates," he said.
Dr. Hillel, who was born in the US but raised in Israel, said in a statement in response to the award, "My joy and gratitude at being granted the World Food Prize this year is tempered by the realization that the work this award recognizes is far from complete. The task of improving the sustainable management of the Earth's finite and vulnerable soil, water, and energy resources for the benefit of humanity while sustaining the natural biotic community and its overall environmental integrity is an ongoing and increasingly urgent challenge for our generation and for future generations. Meeting this challenge will require enhanced global cooperation and integrated scientific research. It is a task, indeed a collective responsibility, that we cannot shirk and must indeed broaden and intensify.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 13, 2012
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