World Food Prize is an award that aims to recognise achievements made in the field of food and agriculture. According to the official website, the research must have resulted in “a demonstrable increase in the quantity, quality, availability of, or access to food for a large number of people.” The award is also referred to as the Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture. Every year, the committee selects one person who will be awarded the title and prize money of $250,000. The World Food Prize 2021 award goes to Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted – a global nutrition expert of Indian descent. She has won the prize for her ground-breaking research in developing holistic, nutrition-sensitive approaches to aquaculture and food systems.
Congratulations to Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted of Trinidad and Tobago and Denmark, the 2021 World Food Prize Laureate! #FoodPrize21pic.twitter.com/pI5NaOFmIs— World Food Prize Foundation (@WorldFoodPrize) May 11, 2021
Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted is a resident of Denmark and was born in Trinidad and Tobago. Her family as well as most other inhabitants of the island were descendants of Indian families brought there as agricultural labourers. As a young girl, Dr. Shakuntala would observe her grandmother’s cooking and appreciate the nuances of its impact on health. She started her career as the first and only woman in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries on the island of Tobago.
Thilsted’s work helped in nourishing hundreds of millions of people who depend on fish and other aquatic foods as an integral part of their food security, livelihoods and culture. Dr. Shakuntala drove transformations in aquatic food systems to deliver improved nutrition, resilient ecosystems and secure livelihoods for millions of vulnerable people across the globe.
Talking about her win, she said, “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,” said Thilsted in the official press release.
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. pic.twitter.com/Q5C3fqefRB— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 11, 2021
(Also Read: All About The World Food Prize And 2020’s Indian-American Winner – Dr. Rattan Lal)
Dr. Shakantula Haraksingh Thilsted now serves as the Global Lead for Nutrition and Public Health at WorldFish, a global CGIAR research center headquartered in Malaysia. Her work guides WorldFish, other research institutions, major funders, government agencies and public and private organizations to work together to reshape food systems to deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Interestingly, the World Food Prize last year was also awarded to a person of Indian origin. In 2020, the World Food Prize was won by Dr. Rattan Lal who was born and brought up in India. He received the prize for his soil-centric approach to increase food production while conserving natural resources and tackling climate change.