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2020 World Food Prize recognizes career devoted to fight hunger and climate change through soil conservation

Rattan Lal receives agriculture’s highest distinction for developing sustainable farming practices that conserve soils and contribute to climate change mitigation.

The World Food Prize Foundation is honoring the work of Rattan Lal, who dedicated his life to study the effect of soil health in food production and climate change mitigation. On October 15 he will receive the 2020 World Food Prize, considered the “Nobel Prize” of agriculture.

Lal, who serves as distinguished professor of Soil Science and founding director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at Ohio State University, is a visionary who understood the intricate relationship between soil conservation, yield potential, nutrition and carbon sequestration.

“Dr. Lal’s innovative research demonstrated how healthy soils are a crucial component of sustainable agricultural intensification — enabling higher crop yields, while requiring less land, agrochemicals, tillage, water and energy”, announced the World Food Prize Foundation in a press release.

Lal becomes the 50th person to receive the World Food Prize since the late Norman Borlaug — 1970 Nobel Peace Prize laureate — established the award in 1987. The award acknowledges outstanding contributions to human development by individuals who significantly improve the quality, quantity and availability of food on a global scale.

“CIMMYT actively researches and promotes the sustainable farming practices that Dr. Lal studied and advocated for since the late 1980s, such as no tillage, residue retention and crop rotation, which combined with new precision farming technologies help farmers increase yields, reduce food production costs and protect the environment”, said Bram Govaerts, Integrated Development director and representative for the Americas at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).

The World Food Prize has a long association with CIMMYT. Sanjaya Rajaram was awarded the 2014 World Food Prize for his work that led to a prodigious increase in world wheat production. Evangelina Villegas and Surinder Vasal were awarded the 2000 World Food Prize for their work on productivity and nutritional content of maize. Bram Govaerts received the Norman Borlaug Field Award in 2014. As an institution, CIMMYT received the Norman Borlaug Field Medallion in 2014.