BRAC founder named 2015 World Food Prize Laureate

BRAC founder named 2015 World Food Prize Laureate

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of agricultural advancement organization BRAC, wins prize for facilitating enhanced food security in 11 countries

The World Food Prize Foundation on Wednesday announced Sir Fazle Hasan Abed of Bangladesh as its 2015 recipient of the World Food Prize, a global award for individuals whose breakthrough achievements alleviate hunger and promote global food security.

Related: 5 ways the World Food Prize is inspiring the next generation

The announcement was made at a ceremony at the U.S. State Department, where USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack offered a keynote address and Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin and WFPF Foundation President Ambassador Kenneth Quinn announced the newest recipient's name.

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of agricultural advancement organization BRAC, wins prize for facilitating enhanced food security in 11 countries (WFP photo)

"I offer my sincerest congratulations to Sir Fazle and appreciation for the progress he has made in improving people's lives, alleviating hunger, and providing pathways out of poverty. Sir Fazle's and his organization's recognition that engaging women in STEAM fields—science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and math—benefits our local and global communities is a vision that we share at USDA.," Vilsack said.

Awarded by the World Food Prize Foundation, the $250,000 prize honors Sir Fazle's achievement in building the unique, integrated development organization Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, which is headquartered in Bangladesh and operates programs in 10 other countries around the globe.

Since he created it more than 40 years ago, Sir Fazle's organization has provided the opportunity for nearly 150 million people worldwide to improve their lives, see improved food security and get out of poverty.

Related: Biotech Scientists Receive 2013 World Food Prize

Today, BRAC operates 18 financially and socially profitable enterprises, across health, agriculture, livestock, fisheries, education, green energy, printing and retail sectors, and has been responsible for extraordinary advancements in the poultry, seed, and dairy industries in Bangladesh and other countries in which it operates in Africa.

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"At a time when the world confronts the great challenge of feeding over nine billion people, Sir Fazle Abed and BRAC … have created the preeminent model being followed around the globe on how to educate girls, empower women and lift whole generations out of poverty," Quinn said.

On receiving the award, Sir Fazle commented: "Being selected to receive the 2015 World Food Prize is a great honor. I consider this award recognition of the work of BRAC, which I have had the privilege to lead over the last 43 years.

Related: Wheat Breeder Named 2014 World Food Prize Laureate

"The real heroes in our story are the poor themselves and, in particular, women struggling with poverty. In situations of extreme poverty, it is usually the women in the family who have to make do with scarce resources. When we saw this at BRAC, we realized that women needed to be the agents of change in our development effort. Only by putting the poorest, and women in particular, in charge of their own destinies, will absolute poverty and deprivation be removed from the face of the earth."

Sir Fazle will receive the World Food Prize at a ceremony that will be held in the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, Iowa on the evening of October 15, 2015. The event is the centerpiece of a three-day international symposium entitled the Borlaug Dialogue, which regularly draws over 1,200 people from 65 countries to discuss cutting-edge issues in global food security.

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