ICARDA researchers receive Olam Prize for innovation in food security

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MONTPELLIER, France (June 5, 2017) – The 2017 Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security was awarded to the “Adapting durum wheat varieties to the Senegal Basin for food security” project led by Filippo Maria Youssef Bassi, durum wheat breeder at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Area (ICARDA).

ICARDA durum wheat trials in Senegal. Photo: Filippo Bassi/ICARDA

In 2014, the Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security was launched in partnership with international scientific organization, Agropolis Fondation. The Olam Prize recognizes an innovative scientific research project for its potential impact on the availability, affordability, accessibility and adequacy of food. The winning project will receive $50,000 funding to support further research initiatives.

“This prize is is really dedicated to the hard work carried out by partners in Mauritania and Senegal over the last four years, under conditions that weren’t always easy,” said Bassi “It’s also validation and recognition for this crazy vision we had five years ago to grow durum wheat in the Savannah at 40 degrees Celsius.”

The Senegal project is funded by the Swedish Research Council. The group is currently working to entice the pasta and couscous industries to purchase durum grains from the Savannah, in addition to teaching rice farmers to grow durum wheat efficiently. Bassi plans to use funds from the Olam Prize to increase visibility, awareness and encourage all levels of the value chain to join the table.

In addition to the Olam Prize, the 2017 Agropolis Fondation Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food was awarded to  Bina Agarwal (University of Manchester, UK) in the “Outstanding Career in Agricultural Development” category;Paul Gepts (University of California–Davis) in the “Distinguished Scientist” category and  Elena Poverenov (The Volcani Center, Israel) in the “Young Promising Scientist” category.

Winners of both prizes will join a round table discussion during the 8th International Forum on Food and Nutrition on December 4-5 in Milan, Italy.

Read the story on ICARDA’s website here.

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