This file photo taken on Jan 6, 2020 shows Heidi Kuhn, founder of NGO group Roots of Peace, presenting a book about farmers who became landmine victims in Quang Tri province, Vietnam. (PHOTO / AFP)
WASHINGTON – Heidi Kuhn, founder of California-based non-profit organization Roots of Peace, has been named the 2023 World Food Prize Laureate for her work to replace mines with vines in post-conflict regions over more than 25 years.
The announcement was made by former US ambassador to China Terry Branstad, President of the World Food Prize Foundation, at a ceremony held at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC on Thursday.
Kuhn, 65, embodies the commitment of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, who founded the World Food Prize in 1986, to cultivate peace through agriculture, said Branstad, also a former Iowa governor.
According to a press release by the World Food Prize Foundation, Heidi Kuhn, a mother of four and a cancer survivor, founded Roots of Peace in 1997 to replace the remnants of war with farmland. The organization also trains farmers in modern agricultural practices, from planting and harvesting to marketing through international exports
"I am honored to announce her as the 2023 Laureate for her work to provide a way forward for more than a million people living in war-torn regions around the world. Roots of Peace provides a model of how to overcome threats and challenges that can impede regions for years after conflict," said Branstad.
Branstad was joined in the ceremony by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, another former Iowa governor.
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According to a press release by the foundation, Kuhn, a mother of four and a cancer survivor, founded Roots of Peace in 1997 to replace the remnants of war with farmland. The organization also trains farmers in modern agricultural practices, from planting and harvesting to marketing through international exports.
Kuhn's work has supported de-mining partners in Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Croatia, Israel, Iraq, the Palestinian territories and Vietnam, allowing local farmers safe access to irrigation canals and arable land for cultivation.
Roughly 60 million individuals residing in nearly 70 nations and territories are at risk of encountering landmines, according to the United Nations, including rural communities where farming is the primary source of livelihood and income.
The World Food Prize Foundation, based in Des Moines, Iowa, aims to elevate innovations and inspire action to sustainably increase food quality, quantity and availability for all.
To date, the World Food Prize has been awarded to 52 individuals from 21 countries and the United Nations.
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