In 1986, Norman Borlaug, an agronomist and Nobel Laureate who is widely recognized as the "father of the Green Revolution," established the World Food Prize. It is an annual international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
Traditionally, farmers flood their fields intermittently and then depend on the soil to store the moisture. But this year’s laureate, Dr. Daniel Hillel, who holds dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship, found that continuous drip irrigation to the plants’ roots resulted in better crops. Drip irrigation also minimized water runoff and evaporation.
“We use more water for agriculture than for any other human pursuit – more than cooking, cleaning, or manufacturing,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “But in many regions of the world ... water is either too scarce or too unpredictable to sustain what we think of as regular agriculture
“For 40 years, Dr. Hillel has worked to solve this problem by bringing his micro-irrigation techniques to the driest and least hospitable growing climates on earth, from Israel to Pakistan to Sudan. Today, farmers using micro-irrigation produce high-yield, nutritious crops on more than 6 million hectares worldwide. Dr. Hillel’s work will become even more important as we grapple with how to feed the world’s growing population.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that by the year 2050, the world will need to produce 60 percent more food than we do today. In that same time, the demand for water used for agricultural purposes will rise by almost 20 percent.
“But our water supply is finite. So if we’re going to strengthen food security, we have to get more out of each drop,” said Secretary of State Clinton.
Dr. Borlaug launched the Green Revolution by finding ways to improve each step in the process of growing food. Similarly, Dr. Hillel is a master of applying new thinking to old problems, said Secretary Clinton. “In that sense, he truly is following in the footsteps of the founder of the World Food Prize, Dr. Norman Borlaug.”