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World Food Prize Laureate Addresses Poverty and Women in Agriculture

The winner of the 2015 World Food Prize, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed of Bangladesh, was recognized Thursday evening for his achievements in BRAC, formerly known as Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee. It ended a week of sessions with dignitaries who discussed the topics of world hunger, nutrition, and food production.

Fazle said he is humbled by the honor, but acknowledged he isn’t the only recipient of the prize. “I don’t take full credit for everything that has happened in BRAC; it is my colleagues and coworkers who have done all of this. I share this with them, and it is a humbling experience to receive the World Food Prize,” he said. 

When it comes to addressing hunger and poverty, he is very optimistic that the world can feed 9 billion people by 2050. He says that over the last 30 years, we have produced much more food than ever before. While food production can be done, the problem lies in distribution. Getting people the access to food is an increasing challenge. 

Another focus of Fazle’s has been the growth in women in agriculture. In BRAC, a lot of the work and attention has been put on women. “We have focused attention on women so far because we felt that women could actually play a much bigger role than they have in the past,” says Fazle. “If there is no food in the household and there are children hungry, what is the mother going to do? We deliberately focused our attention on women as change agents in our societies.” 

BRAC started education programs and was determined to make one thing happen: 70% of the schools it would teach must include girls. According to Fazle, boys were previously given preference for education. This program was a way for them to insist that girls be educated in society.  

“If I thought I was going to change other people’s lives, it would not happen. They have to change and be motivated. They can change their own lives,” he said. 

Fazle received the award at a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol on Thursday, October 15.  

For more information about the World Food Prize Laureate, visit worldfoodprize.org

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