An Indian American soil scientist honored with 2020 World Food Prize



Rattan Lal, an eminent Indian-American soil scientist, on Thursday, was named this year’s recipient of the World Food Prize for developing and mainstreaming a soil-centric approach to increasing food production that conserves natural resources and mitigates climate change.

Lal received an award of USD 250,000 that honors his contribution throughout his career spanning more than five decades and four continents to promote innovative soil-saving techniques that benefit the livelihoods of more than 500 million smallholder farmers, improve the food and nutritional security of more than two billion people and saves hundreds of millions of hectares of natural tropical ecosystems.

Through his expertise, barren lands have been transformed into lands of rich produce. He has helped arrest degradation and grow crops in several areas across Africa and the world.

You may wonder why then a man of his caliber is not putting his mind on helping India’s largely drying agricultural land?

Mr. Lal had shown keen interest in sharing his knowledge with India to boost soil health and productivity, but sadly, he says, no one is interested.

“The trouble with India is nobody listens. But here (the US), people listen,” Lal, a Distinguished University Professor at Ohio State University, told IANS on the sidelines of an international conference in 2017.

Lal studied at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in the 1960s. The septuagenarian is a recipient of the MS Swaminathan award and the Norman Borlaug Award.

“The unbound joy and excitement of receiving the 2020 World Food Prize reminds me about the gratitude, privilege, and honor of working for farmers from around the world,” Lal said.

“Yet, the urgent task of feeding humanity is not fulfilled until each and every person has access to an adequate amount of nutritious food grown on healthy soil and in a clean environment,” he added.