WASHINGTON, DC, July 2, 2015 (ENS) – Sir Fazle Hasan Abed of Bangladesh has been awarded the 2015 World Food Prize, given in recognition of those whose achievements alleviate hunger and promote global food security.

Calling the $250,000 award a “great honor,” Sir Fazle said, “I consider this award recognition of the work of BRAC, which I have had the privilege to lead over the last 43 years.”

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Sir Fazle Hasan Abed at the Clinton Global Initiative in is role as president of the Women Entrepreneur Association of Bangladesh, Sept. 2013 (Photo courtesy CGI)

BRAC, formally known as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, has been hailed as the most effective anti-poverty organization in the world.

Its agricultural and development innovations have improved food security for millions and contributed to a decline in poverty levels through its direct effects on farmers and small communities across the globe.

“The real heroes in our story are the poor themselves and, in particular, women struggling with poverty,” said Sir Fazle. “In situations of extreme poverty, it is usually the women in the family who have to make do with scarce resources.”

“When we saw this at BRAC, we realized that women needed to be the agents of change in our development effort,” he said. “Only by putting the poorest, and women in particular, in charge of their own destinies, will absolute poverty and deprivation be removed from the face of the Earth.”

This year’s World Food Prize winner was announced by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the U.S. State Department. The event was hosted by Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin, with Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation.

Awarded by the World Food Prize Foundation, the $250,000 prize honors Sir Fazle’s unparalleled achievement in building the unique, integrated development organization BRAC, which is headquartered in Bangladesh and operates programs in 10 other countries around the globe.

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Sir Fazle with some of the children he advocates for (Photo courtesy World Food Prize)

Since he created it over 40 year ago, Sir Fazle’s organization has provided the opportunity for nearly 150 million people worldwide to improve their lives, have enhanced food security and follow a pathway out of poverty through its dynamic and effective development programs.

Said Ambassador Quinn, “At a time when the world confronts the great challenge of feeding over nine billion people, Sir Fazle Abed and BRAC, the organization he founded and leads, have created the preeminent model being followed around the globe on how to educate girls, empower women and lift whole generations out of poverty.”

Today BRAC operates 18 financially and socially profitable enterprises, across health, agriculture, livestock, fisheries, education, green energy, printing and retail sectors. BRAC has been responsible for extraordinary advancements in the poultry, seed, and dairy industries in Bangladesh and other countries in which it operates in Africa.

“For this monumental achievement, Sir Fazle truly deserves recognition as the 2015 World Food Prize Laureate,” said Ambassador Quinn.

Sir Fazle’s award comes shortly after Bangladesh was applauded in a United Nations report for successfully meeting the Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by the year 2015.

In his formal remarks, Ambassador Quinn praised the leadership and policies of the Bangladesh government which led to this dramatic achievement.

Sir Fazle will receive the World Food Prize at a ceremony in the distinguished Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, on the evening of October 15.

The event is the centerpiece of an annual three-day international symposium entitled the Borlaug Dialogue, which draws over 1,200 people from 65 countries to consider cutting-edge issues in global food security.

Also scheduled for World Food Prize week is the Iowa Hunger Summit on October 13, as well as the three-day Global Youth Institute designed to inspire the next generation of high school students to explore careers in agriculture and fighting hunger.

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