Israeli Innovator Dr. Daniel Hillel wins UN World Food Prize

October 16, 2012 is World Food Day as designated by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This years theme is agricultural cooperatives, and the winner of the World Food Prize for 2012 is Dr. Daniel Hillel of Israel. He was honored for his work in micro-irrigation and innovative irrigation methods for use in arid regions at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Such work is essential considering our global food production needs and rising food costs.

Nourishing the states:

“Dr. Hillel was honored for his work in microirrigation, an innovative irrigation method that applies water in small, continuous amounts directly to plants. Many traditional methods of irrigation, including soaking fields during a region’s wet season and allowing them to dry out during the arid season, are relatively inefficient in both crop productivity and water conservation.

The food prize council also recognized Dr. Hillel’s commitment to intercultural understanding and collaboration; he has worked to spread his irrigation technique to farmers in 30 countries, including Turkey, Pakistan, Sudan, and Palestinian communities.”

Dr. Hillel discussed sustainable agricultural practices in a recent lecture in the US. According to the Iowa Daily, Dr. Hillel, an adjunct senior scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute is quoted as saying that,“we are not able to expand agriculture much beyond where it is today without encroaching upon natural ecosystems and violating their biodiversity and impoverishing the biosphere. So we have to be very careful and learn how to intensify production and do it sustainably without degrading the resources of the land and water.”

Israel is known for pioneering practices (the drip irrigation system was invented by Israelis) and is often called the Start Up nation for it’s innovations that benefit the global population. That population is growing at a fast rate.

“The world’s population has been projected to stabilize at 9 [billion] to 10 billion by the third decade of this century,” Hillel said. “Consequently, our expansive population has been placing ever greater demands on the world’s limited and vulnerable soil, water and biotic resources.”

“My hope is to encourage them to pursue their interests, and to raise their awareness of the crucial importance of this profession that we share, which is agriculture and environment and land and water and climate,” Hillel said. “You [young people] are the future of the world.”

For more information on World Food Day, visit the website.

Photo Credit: Circle of Blue

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