The World Food Prize Foundation has officially announced Heidi Kuhn as the recipient of the 2023 World Food Prize.
Heidi Kuhn, a United States national, has been recognized for her exceptional contributions to revitalizing agriculture and promoting peace in conflict-ridden regions.
U.S. Ambassador, Terry Branstad, who also serves as the President of the World Food Prize Foundation, made the announcement at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.
He commended Heidi Kuhn for her remarkable two-decade-long dedication to a development model that has played a pivotal role in restoring peace and prosperity through agriculture in war-affected areas.
The official announcement stated, “Heidi Kühn’s, aged 65, will be honored by the World Food Prize Foundation for her farmer-focused development model, which rejuvenates farmland, enhances food security, strengthens livelihoods, and builds resilience in regions devastated by conflicts.”
Heidi Kühn’s impactful work has supported demining efforts in various conflict-stricken regions, including Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Croatia, Israel, Iraq, Palestinian territories, and Vietnam. These efforts have enabled local farmers to safely access irrigation canals and arable land for agricultural cultivation.
A mother of four and a cancer survivor, she began her journey in post-conflict Croatia. There, she partnered with Croatian-American wine producer Mike Grgich of Grgich Hills Estate to facilitate the removal of mines left from the War of Independence (1991-1995) and to re-establish vineyards.
Through her humanitarian organization, Roots of Peace, Kühn has pioneered a market-led model that conducts initial agricultural assessments to identify viable opportunities for smallholder farmers. The organization then collaborates with partners to clear mines, enabling farmers to make productive use of the land.
Heidi Kühn, who was visiting minefields in Azerbaijan when the prestigious award was announced, expressed her gratitude and sense of responsibility, saying, “It is with immense gratitude and a sense of responsibility that I humbly accept the World Food Prize this year on behalf of Roots of Peace and the farming families of war-torn countries across the world. This prestigious award underscores the importance of our mission to revitalize agriculture in post-conflict areas, as a means of healing both the land and its people.”
She added, “As we rejoice in this recognition, we must not forget the millions of families affected by the tragedies of war, who seek hope, stability, and sustenance through the nurturing power of agriculture.”