If you’ve ever taken AP Human Geography, you’ve heard of Norman Borlaug. The agronomist is credited for starting initiatives that led to the Green Revolution of the 70s. This was a decade of change in agricultural practices that led to increases in agricultural production rates. Another thing Borlaug is credited with is founding the World Food Prize. The World Food Prize is an award that recognizes initiatives made to help solve world hunger. The World Food Prize also has a junior committee, Global Youth Institute, which meets at an annual summit in Iowa alongside the World Food Prize foundation. One of the members of the Global Youth Institute is Annalise Mak '24, a senior at HKIS.
Borlaug with members of the World Food Prize in 2013
Annalise has been involved with multiple food charities in Hong Kong for years, including names like Feeding Hong Kong and Food Angels. A main goal of hers throughout high school has been to help others with their food insecurity. She learned about the Global Youth Institute online and hoping that this could help her make a bigger impact internationally, she reached out. So far, Annalise believes that joining the Global Youth Institute was an amazing decision due to the exposure to other initiatives by the World Food Prize. “A great part of the Global Youth Institute is that we also get to participate in the Borlaug Dialogue–the adult table of the Food Prize–when we visited the annual summit in Iowa”.
Annalise mentions meeting author Roger Thurow, who was participating as a guest speaker at the summit. “Thurow gave a speech about how about 25% of the world population is stunted physically or mentally because of issues from food security, and this was just eyeopening for me because this essentially means that 25% of the world’s potential is not being utilized due to world hunger.” She goes on to say that in Hong Kong, we don’t see much about the issues and impact of world hunger, poverty and famine, but it is a huge issue that needs to be addressed. Even if these issues don’t directly affect you, the fact that so much of the world is not able to grow due to these issues does affect us in the end.
Scenes from the Borlaug Dialogue 2023
Apart from rubbing shoulders with famous authors and activists, Annalise and other members of the Global Youth Institute also had to prepare speeches of their own, which they shared in a round table discussion. Annalise’s own personal paper was about how the Filipino government handled food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. She got to hear about the issues other students brought up, and later even worked on brainstorming ideas to further food security in certain countries, where she and others discussed how they could assist Singapore during its chicken rice crisis.
If there was one thing Annalise hopes people can take away from the summit, it goes back to her earlier point about how world hunger affects you even if you think it doesn’t. “It’s everywhere, even if you don’t see it. An example of this is the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Ukraine is the ‘bread basket’ of that region, so since Ukraine has been under this stress, its food production has decreased. The consequences of this are going to be devastating, even after the war because there’s going to be landmines there, and the land available is not going to be used for a very long time.” Ultimately, we only have our own perspectives of food insecurity, but we just have to make sure to be aware of it given how widespread and impactful it is.
“I don't think a lot of us understand how big of a role food and agriculture play in our economy and poverty, in war and peace, in our joy and sadness.”
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