Irrigation Expert Crosses Religious, Political Lines to Win Major Prize

Irrigation Expert Crosses Religious, Political Lines to Win Major Prize

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An Israeli scientist who has reached across political and ethnic boundaries to help dozens of countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America improve agriculture with new methods of irrigation will receive the World Food Prize. Daniel Hillel, who is credited with developing drip irrigation methods that conserve water while allowing food to be grown in some of the world’s driest climates, was named the winner of this year’s $250,000 prize during a ceremony in Washington.

The system Hillel developed, called micro-irrigation, carries water through narrow plastic pipes to plants, where it drips or trickles onto the roots in a continuous way. It has revolutionized agricultural practices in more than 30 countries over the past 50 to 60 years, helping thousands of farmers, said World Food Prize Foundation president Kenneth Quinn, a former US ambassador. In announcing the award, Quinn talked not only about Hillel’s research but the fact that an Israeli found a way to work with leaders in Arab nations to improve food production.

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