11) Indian aquaculturalist named winner of the 2005 World Food Prize (11 June 2005)

An Indian scientist, Dr Modadugu Vijay Gupta, has been named winner of the $250,000 World Food Prize for his work to enhance nutrition for over one million people, mostly very poor women, through the expansion of aquaculture and fish farming in South and Southeast Asia, and Africa.

Dr Gupta, whose hometown is Bapatla in Andhra Pradesh, was till his recent retirement the Assistant Director General at WorldFish, an international fisheries research institute under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) based at Penang in Malaysia.

According to Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT and Chairman of the Executive of the Future Harvest Alliance of the CGIAR, the recognition to Dr Gupta is another feather in the cap of the 15 international agricultural research institutes under the CGIAR. It is further acknowledgement of the impact of CGIAR institutes in improving global food production for alleviating poverty.

Dr Gupta's name was announced by the World Food Prize Foundation on 10 June at a ceremony at the US State Department at Washington DC. While making the announcement, Ambassador Kenneth M Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation, said that through Dr Gupta's dedicated and sustained efforts in Bangladesh, Laos and other countries in Southeast Asia, he made small scale aquaculture a viable means for over one million very poor farmers and women to improve their family's nutrition and well-being.

As a result of Dr Gupta's efforts, freshwater fish production has risen dramatically in these countries by as much as three to five times. He developed unique methods of fish farming, requiring little cost while causing no environmental damage. As a result, landless farmers and poor women have turned a million abandoned pools, roadside ditches, seasonally flooded fields and other bodies of water into mini-factories churning out fish for food and income.

“The World Food Prize is a great honor for all those who work with improving fish production for reducing poverty and environmental protection,” said Dr Gupta. “It is a recognition of the importance of fisheries for protecting the nutritional security of the world,” he added.

According to Dr Gupta, research to increase fish production increases the availability of nutrition in poor families, increases their household income and also results in improved social status for women in the families. Since capture fishing in declining, aquaculture can be of significance in developing countries.

Dr Gupta is the sixth citizen of India to receive the World Food Prize since it was established in 1986. Previous recipients include : Dr M S Swaminathan, 1987; Dr Verghese Kurien, 1989; Dr Gurdev Khush, 1996; Dr B R Barwale, 1998; and Dr. Surinder K Vasal, 2000. The World Food Prize will be formally presented to Dr Gupta at a ceremony on 13 October 2005 in the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines, USA.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.