A Netherlands seed developer is the 2019 winner of the World Food Prize for pioneering high quality and disease-resistant vegetable seeds.
The Dutch seed man has already introduced the hybrid seeds to over 60 countries, including Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand.
On Monday, June 10, World Food Prize Foundation President Kenneth Quinn makes the announcement during the award ceremony. Quinn declared that the person behind the “extraordinary global transformational achievement—the vegetable seed revolution—is Mr. Simon N. Groot.”
Founder of East-West Seed
Groot is a sixth generation seed man and the founder of East-West Seed. He started his quest in 1981 with the aim to produce healthier vegetable seeds to help the poor farmers in South East Asia.
Groot was 47 at the time when he saw his family business Sluis & Groot taken over by a large biotech multinational.
Groot realized then that he has to adopt a different and innovative way to help farmers in developing countries to overcome their farming challenges. Nearly 40 years later, Groot’s East-West Seed is Asia’s market trailblazer in hybrid vegetable seeds.
Present at the World Food Prize ceremony was U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who stated the efforts of agricultural innovators are gaining more prominence in our society today.
The reason is, Pompeo said, “More than 820 million people, as we sit here, in this beautiful space suffer from chronic hunger” He mentioned Venezuela as an example, that over 60 percent of the population goes to bed hungry every night.
“Many have resorted to rummaging through garbage bins to feed themselves and their children. Malnourishment is so widespread that Venezuelans refer to it as the ‘Maduro diet,’” said Pompeo.
U.S. Secretary of State believes it is a moral obligation solve the world’s food shortage crisis and to stop the cycle of hunger, crime and violence, and instability.
Pompeo acknowledged Groot’s contribution at the ceremony. Referring to the “remarkable improvements” Groot has made with his tropical vegetable seeds, Pompeo commented that Groot has made the hybrid seeds readily available to small farmers in developing countries.
This way, it helps the farmers to “get more income for themselves and their families, curbing hunger and stimulating economic growth wherever these seeds went,” said Pompeo, thereby breaking the vicious cycle.
On Oct. 17, Groot will receive the prize of US$250,000 during the award ceremony at the Iowa capitol city of Des Moines.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug created the World Food Prize in 1986 to acknowledge those who make significant improvements in the quality and availability of food.
Dutch seed developer is the 2019 winner of the World Food Prize for pioneering high quality and disease-resistant tropical vegetable seeds.