The World Food Prize Foundation has announced that Dr. Mahalingam Govindaraj, senior scientist for crop development at HarvestPlus and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, will receive the 2022 Norman E. Borlaug Award for Field Research and plication, endowed by The Rockefeller Foundation.

World Food Prize Foundation senior director Keegan Kautzky made the announcement during the National Symposium on Food, Nutrition and Environmental Security in New Delhi.

Govindaraj is recognized for his outstanding leadership in mainstreaming biofortified crops, particularly pearl millet, in India and Africa. For more than a decade, he has directed the development and dissemination of high-yielding, high-iron and high-zinc pearl millet varieties that have contributed to better nutrition for thousands of farmers and their communities.

„Pandemics remind us that food and nutrition security must go hand in hand,” Govindaraj said. „Effectively addressing malnutrition requires that stle crops, such as millet, be bred for essential nutrition, in addition to yield.”

Govindaraj credits the biofortification alliance with providing the global interdisciplinary opportunity, support and guidance that transformed his research and development in millet.

„Dr. Borlaug believed that food is a moral right for all who are born into this world,” he said. “Today, we recognize that both food and nutrition security are moral rights for everyone.
I’m delighted to receive this global award just ahead of the international year of millets (2023), as interventions like biofortified millet allow us to fill the g between food and nutrition security.”

In 2014, while working at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Govindaraj released the world’s first biofortified pearl millet, called Dhanashakti. Independent clinical studies showed that 200 grams of Dhanashakti provided women with more than 80 per cent of their recommended daily allowance of iron, compared to only 20 per cent in regular pearl millet varieties.

Now, more than 120,000 farming households in India grow the specialized crop. Estimates show that, by 2024, more than 9 million people in India will be consuming iron- and zinc-rich pearl millet and reing the health benefits of better nutrition.

Govindaraj will formally receive the Borlaug Field Award during a ceremony on October 19 at the 2022 Norman E. Borlaug International Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa.


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