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AGRICULTURE REPORT – August 27, 2002: World Food Prize - 2002-08-23

This is the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.

Pedro Sanchez (PAY-dro SAHN-chez) of the United States has won the World Food Prize for this year. The prize will be presented in October at Iowa State University. Mister Sanchez will receive the award and two-hundred-fifty-thousand dollars.

The World Food Prize honors people who have improved the quality of world food supplies. Mister Sanchez is chairman of the United Nations Task Force on World Hunger. The award recognizes his years of work to improve soil productivity in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa. The World Food Prize Foundation says his methods have helped feed people in the developing world while protecting the environment.

Pedro Sanchez was born in Havana, Cuba, in nineteen-forty. His father was an agricultural expert. As a boy, Pedro observed his father’s efforts to help farmers use fertilizers more effectively. This influenced his decision to study agricultural science in Havana.

In nineteen-fifty-eight, Mister Sanchez came to the United States and continued his studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. In the nineteen-seventies, he led North Carolina State University’s Rice Research Program in Peru. The World Food Prize Foundation says Mister Sanchez helped Peru increase its rice production. In just three years, Peru was producing enough rice to feed its population.Mister Sanchez found that many people in Peru’s Amazon River area had believed their soil was useless for agriculture.

Mister Sanchez then led an effort to develop a soil management program in a huge area of unproductive land in Brazil. His team and Brazil’s Agricultural Research Program developed methods to make the area productive. As a result of this work, thirty-million hectares were made productive. Average crop production increased by sixty percent.

In nineteen-ninety-one, Mister Sanchez became head of the International Center for Research in Agroforestry in Nairobi, Kenya. There, he developed a method to improve soil with nutrients from local rock phosphate and by planting trees on farmland.

The World Food Prize Foundation says his methods have provided natural, low-cost ways for African farmers to fertilize their soils. These methods have increased food production for many African farmers by as much as four-hundred percent.

This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow.