Dr. Daniel Hillel, an Israeli scientist who developed an innovative way of bringing water to crops in arid regions, will recieve the 2012 World Food Prize. Dr. Daniel Hillel, revolutionized food production in the Middle East 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.
Dr. Hillel stated he is pleased to be receiving the award, the urgent work of providing water and food for humanity is by no means finished. His 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.
Hillel stated, 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.
Dr. Hillel spent part of his childhood in the Jezreel and Jordan Valleys, where he acquired a lifelong interest in agriculture and ecology. In 1951, after earning a master’s degree in earth sciences at Rutgers University in New Jersey, he returned to Israel to help in the young state’s development. He took part in surveying the country’s land and water resources and was a founding member of Sde Boker in the Negev.
His research has led to a shift from what was then the prevailing method of irrigation. The new methods conceived and developed by Dr. Hillel applied water in small but continuous amounts directly to plant roots, cutting the amount of water needed to nourish crops, maintaining their consistent health and resulting in higher crop yields to feed more people.
Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, announced Dr. Daniel Hillel will be presented with the $250,000 award in October, 2012. Ambassador 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. Quinn stated, “confronting hunger can bring diverse people together across even the broadest political, ethnic, religious or diplomatic differences.
Ambassador Quinn stated, 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.”
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