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Former presidents of Brazil, Ghana win World Food Prize

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and former Ghanian President John Agyekum Kufuor have been awarded the World Food Prize.

Both men were honored Friday in Des Moines for creating and implementing government policies that alleviated hunger and poverty in their countries. These achievements put Brazil and Ghana on track to meet or exceed the objectives of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, making the two leaders model examples in realizing an end to hunger and poverty worldwide.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Brazil had become a major agricultural exporter but still had millions of hungry people when Lula da Silva ran partly on a platform that fighting hunger and poverty would be a top priority of his government.

When he took office in 2003, he focused government ministries on the expansive "Zero Hunger" programs, which provided greater access to food, strengthened family farms and rural incomes, increased enrollment of primary school children, and empowered the poor, the World Food Prize said in a news release. The program provided money to mothers to buy food, bought food from small, local farmers and included a large school feeding program.
John Agyekum Kufuor

Former Ghanian President John Agyekum Kufuor
Under Kufuor’s leadership, Ghana reduced the number of people living in hunger from 34 percent in 1990 to 9 percent in 2004, and became the first sub-Saharan African country to cut in half the proportion of its people who suffer from hunger, and the proportion of people living on less than a dollar per day, on course to meet the first U.N. Millennium Development Goal.

In an event on the sidelines of the World Food Prize festivities in Des Moines, the Global Harvest Initiative released its 2011 Global Agricultural Productivity Report, which compares the current rate of global agricultural productivity with the rate required to sustainably meet the needs of the more than 9 billion people expected to inhabit the earth by 2050.

The report said that Brazil, China, Indonesia and Ghana have had varying success in agricultural development compared with other developing countries.

The Global Harvest Initiative was established in 2009 as a partnership among Archer Daniels Midland Company, DuPont, John Deere, and Monsanto, with the goal of addressing hunger and food insecurity by sustainably closing the global agricultural productivity gap.

Also in conjunction with the World Food Prize, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Land O’Lakes Inc. and a group called Women Thrive Worldwide sponsored a panel discussion titled “Feeding a Hungry World — Why We Must Invest in the Next Generation of Female Farmers.”