World Food Prize awards $500,000 to 2023 laureate

2023 Laureate Heidi Kuhn with her memento. (Photo courtesy of World Food Prize Foundation.)

At its annual Laureate Award Ceremony, the World Food Prize Foundation, Des Moines, Iowa, surprised 2023 Laureate Heidi Kühn with the announcement of a doubling of prize amount to $500,000. Previously the award was $250,000.

The ceremony, held at the Iowa State Capitol building, is frequently referred to as “the Nobel Prize for Agriculture” and is held in parallel with the Norman E. Borlaug International Dialogue. The conference drew over 1,300 participants from more than 75 countries this year. The above photo, courtesy of the World Food Prize Foundation, shows Kühn with the 2023 memento.

The World Food Prize Foundation announced the increased prize award in recognition of the lifelong impact that laureates have achieved through their work. The increased cash prize will continue to be awarded to future laureates. 

Helping those in need

In receiving the 2023 World Food Prize, Kühn said, “I accept this award on behalf of our Kühn family and farmers and families living in war-torn countries worldwide. Yet, as I stand here today, the ravages of war echo from multiple continents. This is not an award to place on a shelf—but a battle cry for the importance of cultivating peace through agriculture.”

This year’s special performer was two-time Grammy award winner and multi-platinum singer Colbie Caillat, who has accumulated over 15 billion streams worldwide with her debut album Coco.

The 2023 World Food Prize was formally awarded to Kühn during the 2023 Borlaug Dialogue, whose theme “Harnessing Change” focused on the role of innovation, adaptation, and diversification to improve the resilience of food systems, recover from shocks and sustainably nourish all people.

The event also included high-level speakers from around the world, including the presidents of Ethiopia and Kosovo, the vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and ministers from Guyana, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and Zambia. 

Ambassador Terry Branstad, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, said, “Perhaps at no other time in history has there been so much attention focused on our global food system. The decisions and commitments we make today will equip us to rise to the challenge of nourishing a growing global population. It is only by embracing innovation that we can overcome the many challenges facing the sector.”

Roots of Peace

Kühn, the founder of the non-profit Roots of Peace, was awarded the World Food Prize for her efforts in turning “mines into vines” by demining war-torn land and turning it back into prosperous farmland for local agriculture to flourish. 

Kühn’s work has supported demining partners in Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Croatia, Israel, Iraq, Palestinian areas and Vietnam, allowing local farmers safe access to irrigation canals and arable land for cultivation. Most recently, Roots of Peace has partnered with the Rotary Club of Ukraine to begin work in the country, where the UN estimates around 30% of the country’s land could be mined as a result of the ongoing conflict.

About World Food Prize

The World Food Prize is an international award that honors individuals who have improved the quality, quantity or availability of food world-wide. The prize was founded by Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize, for his work that contributed to increases in agricultural outputs which was termed the Green Revolution.

Since then, the prize has been awarded to 52 worthy individuals during the Norman E. Borlaug International Dialogue. The dialogue, also known as the Borlaug Dialogue, is a week of events dedicated to an issue surrounding food insecurity or hunger each year.