World Food Prize looks for next big idea in feeding the world

Market to Market | Clip
Oct 27, 2023 | 4 min

The annual event in Iowa brings together big thinkers from various government, foundations and private industries all in an effort to enhance food security. 


Leaders in agriculture from around the world descended on Des Moines, Iowa this week for the annual World Food Prize Laureate Ceremony and 2023 Borlaug   Dialogue.

Secretary Tom Vilsack, USDA: “we are called to a responsibility and a call to action to harness change and to and to provide assistance and help as a result of the challenges that conflict creates. And we're certainly called as a human kind to respond to the crisis of climate, there is no question that it is impacting and affecting the way in which we live. And we'll continue to do so.”

This year’s laureate, Heidi (que-n) Kuhn, along with other past winners of the prize started by Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, took part in sessions over three days under the umbrella of this year’s theme - harnessing change.

Heidi Kuhn, 2023 World Food Prize Laureate: “And I just, Cheryl, would like to hold this shovel up in my battle cry for peace. And the words that are respected by various faiths, in the Old Testament, may they beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. So that nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” 

Kuhn won this year’s World Food Prize for work she conducted through her non-profit agency Roots of Peace. The group focuses on the removal of landmines and unexploded bombs, making way for use of the land for agricultural use. 

Global food issues and security garnered more headlines following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

In fact, the number of people in the world dealing with food insecurity has gone up in recent years for a myriad of reasons.

Cary Fowler, Special Envoy for Global Food Security: “When Russia invaded Ukraine, we became very well aware of how conflict has an impact on food security, and it's one of the major causes, think 60 or so percent of the people who are food insecure. They live in countries that are experiencing conflict.   

Exactly who is leading the charge comes in many forms, whether it’s government, private industry or foundations, all those who participated this week spoke about the investment needed by everyone who eats.

Raj Shah, President - Rockefeller Foundation: “Frankly, we need to reimagine our politics to say let's get serious again about recognizing that America has always been the world's leader on fighting hunger. Let's do it again. We have the skill and the will and the sense of moral purpose to get that done.” 

Hon. Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Minister of International Development - Norway: “from day one in a humanitarian setting, we need to think what is the long term plan to get from shipping in food and water to investing in local resilience in these situations, because we can continue fighting hunger in humanitarian situations the same way as we have, we need to think much more long term and we really need to cooperate on that.”

There was also a call for the next generation of thinkers to choose agriculture as a career to help meet the challenges of feeding a growing world.  

The Rt. Hon. Mark Spencer, MP, UK Minister of State for Food, Farming and Fisheries: “...everybody in this room today can play their part in evangelizing for, you know, getting involved in food production globally, because we need the brightest and best young people to come into our sector and to, to drive us forward to meet those huge challenges.”

For Market to Market, I’m Peter Tubbs.