BRAC founder wins World Food Prize

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed recognized for his work in leading anti-poverty organization.

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed of Bangladesh was announced July 1 as the 2015 winner of the World Food Prize, the most prominent global award for individuals whose breakthrough achievements alleviate hunger and promote global food security.

The announcement was made at a ceremony at the U.S. State Department, presided over by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack who gave keynote remarks. The event was hosted by Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles H. Rivkin, with Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, making public Sir Fazle’s name.

“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. It is my honor to participate in this event today with people who see the need for innovative approaches to feeding our rapidly growing population,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Awarded by the World Food Prize Foundation, the $250,000 prize honors Sir Fazle’s unparalleled achievement in building the unique, integrated development organization BRAC, which is headquartered in Bangladesh and operates programs in 10 other countries around the globe.  Since he created it over 40 year ago, Sir Fazle’s organization has provided the opportunity for nearly 150 million people worldwide to improve their lives, have enhanced food security and follow a pathway out of poverty through its dynamic and effective development programs.

“At a time when the world confronts the great challenge of feeding over nine billion people, Sir Fazle Abed and BRAC, the organization he founded and leads, have created the preeminent model being followed around the globe on how to educate girls, empower women and lift whole generations out of poverty.  For this monumental achievement, Sir Fazle truly deserves recognition as the 2015 World Food Prize Laureate,” commented World Food Prize president, Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn in making public the Laureate’s name.

BRAC, which was formally known as Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, has been hailed as the most effective anti-poverty organization in the world.  Its agricultural and development innovations have improved food security for millions and contributed to a significant decline in poverty levels through direct impacts to farmers and small communities across the globe. 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.

The news of Sir Fazle’s award comes shortly after Bangladesh was applauded in a United Nations report for successfully meeting the Millennium Development Goal, to halve hunger by the year 2015. In his formal remarks, Ambassador Quinn praised the leadership and policies of the Bangladesh government which led to this dramatic achievement.

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. 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 at 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.  Also included in the World Food Prize week-long series of events is the Iowa Hunger Summit on October 13 the three-day Global Youth Institute, which includes 400 participants from the U.S. and abroad and is designed to inspire the next generation of high school students to explore careers in agriculture and fighting hunger.

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