Dutch seed breeder wins prestigious World Food Prize

Dutch seed breeder wins prestigious World Food Prize

This year’s World Food Prize has been awarded to 84-year-old seed breeder Simon Groot. Groot is the first Dutch national to receive the prize (and a cheque for 250.000 dollars), for his development of vegetable seeds which are much more resistant to diseases and have higher yields.

Spreading seeds across the world

In Asia, farmers were using poor quality seeds, which led to bad harvests, poverty and malnutrition. With the company East-West Seed, founded in 1982 by Groot and his partner in the Philippines, Groot developed seeds that would benefit farmers; the company now has more than 973 improved seed varieties for 60 vegetable crops.

Groot’s seeds were spread across the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Southeast Asia, with East-West Seed now serving 20 million small-holder farmers in more than 60 tropical countries. According to Kenneth Quinn from the World Food Prize Foundation, “Farmers' daily lives were uplifted and consumers benefited from greater access to nutritious vegetables." He adds that Groot is absolutely deserving of the prize.

Millions of smallholder farmers

Groot is happy with the prize but states that “the ultimate recognition is for the millions of small-holder farmers who have been able to make agriculture their business.” The prize will be awarded to Groot during a ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa on October 17. The World Food Prize was first created in 1986 by 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug to recognise scientists and others improving the quality and availability of food.

Thumb: 2019 The World Food Prize Foundation

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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