News / USA

    Former Heads of Brazil, Ghana Awarded Anti-Hunger Prize

    Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and John Agyekum Kufuor dramatically cut hunger in their developing countries

    Former president of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor, right, and former president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, receive the 2011 World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa on  Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011.
    Former president of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor, right, and former president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, receive the 2011 World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011.

    Two former presidents who dramatically reduced hunger in their developing countries received the World Food Prize, the top prize honoring achievements to combat hunger.

    Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana were honored for instituting policies which cut their nation's hunger rates.


    The World Food Prize was awarded Thursday in the U.S. state of Iowa.  

    Rising fortunes

    Cocoa farmers in Ghana saw their fortunes improve dramatically under Kufuor. Government investments in farmer education, fertilizers and pest control doubled cocoa production per hectare.

    Farmers raising yams and other food crops got government help, too, leading to big productivity and income gains.

    In addition, Kufuor backed a school meal program which reaches about one in nine of Ghana's primary school children.

    These programs helped cut the African nation’s hunger rate from 34 percent in 1990 to nine percent in 2004.

    Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva made reducing hunger one of his government's highest priorities.
    Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva made reducing hunger one of his government's highest priorities.

    Brazil's popular former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, also made reducing hunger one of his government's highest priorities.

    "This is a sacred right, a fundamental right of all humans," said Lula da Silva. "Because famine, without a doubt, is the biggest weapon of mass destruction."

    'Bolsa Familia'

    Poor Brazilian families were guaranteed a minimum income and basic services under his "Bolsa Familia" program, while programs improving poor families' access to food cut the hunger rate in half.

    Ghana's former president, John Agyekum Kufuor, backed a school meal program which reached about one in nine of his country's primary school children.
    Ghana's former president, John Agyekum Kufuor, backed a school meal program which reached about one in nine of his country's primary school children.

    That strategy won Lula da Silva an award last year from the U.N. World Food Program, presented by the group's chief, Josette Sheeran.

    "Brazil has been beating the hunger curve faster than any nation," he said.

    Lula da Silva and Kufuor share the privately-sponsored $250,000 award.

    The World Food Prize was established by Norman Borlaug, the American plant breeder and 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner whose improvements in wheat and rice are credited with averting famine in Asia in the 1960s.   


    Steve Baragona

    Steve Baragona is an award-winning multimedia journalist covering science, environment and health.

    He spent eight years in molecular biology and infectious disease research before deciding that writing about science was more fun than doing it. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in journalism in 2002.

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