Washington, May 11 (PTI) Dr Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, a global nutrition expert of Indian descent, on Tuesday won the prestigious 2021 World Food Prize for her groundbreaking research in developing holistic, nutrition-sensitive approaches to aquaculture and food systems.
World Food Prize Foundation President Barbara Stinson announced the award, which is also referred to as the Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture.
The award also carries a cash prize of USD 250,000.
US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, US Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack and UN Nutrition Chair Naoko Yamamoto delivered individual remarks at the announcement.
Thilsted’s trailblazing research on small native fish species in Bangladesh led to the development of nutrition-sensitive approaches to aquatic food systems at all levels, from the farm to food processing to final consumers, resulting in improved diets for millions of the most vulnerable people in Asia and Africa, the World Food Prize said on its website.
"I am truly honoured to receive the 2021 World Food Prize, and I am deeply humbled to be placed in such distinguished ranks as those of past laureates.
"Aside from personal joy and gratitude, as a scientist, I feel this award is an important recognition of the essential but often overlooked role of fish and aquatic food systems in agricultural research for development. Fish and aquatic foods offer life-changing opportunities for millions of vulnerable women, children, and men to be healthy and well-nourished," Thilsted, 71, said.
Thilsted, Global Lead for Nutrition and Public Health, WorldFish, has brought together interdisciplinary and international collaborators and drove transformations in aquatic food systems to deliver improved nutrition, resilient ecosystems and secure livelihoods for millions of vulnerable people across the globe, it said.
Nutrition-sensitive approaches place nutrition and public health at the core of how food is produced, processed, transported, priced, distributed and consumed.
In his message, Blinken tweeted, "pleased to celebrate the 2021 @WorldFoodPrize Laureate, Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, who led groundbreaking research into a nutritious fish species. Thanks to her, millions of low-income families globally are getting key nutrients. Her innovations have transformed lives."
Thilsted expanded the evolution of food systems from “feeding” to “nourishing” hundreds of millions of people who depend on fish and other aquatic foods as an integral part of their food and nutrition security, livelihoods and culture, it said.
“The potential of diverse and nutritious aquatic foods is ripe for harvesting, offering a path to produce sufficient food supply without increasing carbon emissions while reducing ecosystem stress and habitat loss,” said Thilsted.
Thilsted, who is a native of Trinidad and Tobago and a citizen of Denmark, was born in 1949 in the Caribbean island of Trinidad in the small village of Reform.
Most of the inhabitants, including her family, were descendants of Indian Hindu migrants brought to Trinidad to engage in agricultural labour, according to the website.
She started her career as the first and only woman in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries on the island of Tobago.
Her work guides WorldFish, other research institutions, major funders, government agencies and public and private organisations to work together to reshape food systems to deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
As an adviser to heads of state, ministers, high-level panels and international boards, she provides direction for research, policies and practices in pursuit of improved food systems that boost biodiversity, enhance environments, reinforce resilient communities, increase incomes, empower women and provide adequate nutrition for all. PTI RS AKJ RS