Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted: The Winner of the World Food Prize in 2021-Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted is the Winner of the World Food Prize in 2021 for her dedication and works on influencing nutrition, fish, and aquatic food systems that help reduce the rate of nutritional deficiencies in poor families in developing countries. The “Nobel Prize for Food” is one of the most prestigious global awards recognizing the extraordinary work of individuals who have worked hard and made a real impact in enhancing human development by increasing the quality, quantity, and equity of food for all humans. Historically, since being formed in 1986 by the pioneers of the Green revolution, Dr. Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Prize has given many awards to scientists who have contributed to the science of food and agriculture and have had a real positive impact on the world.
Dr. Thilsted is the first woman of Asian descent who receive the Nobel Prize for Food in 2021. She was born on October 29, 1949, in San Fernando, Trinidad. She had a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural from University West Indies, Trinidad. Arrived in Denmark, 1973 and later became a Danish citizen following her husband’s citizenship. In 1980, she obtained his doctorate (Ph.D.) in Physiology of Nutrition from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark. After graduating, she had involved in projects from FAO and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) which focused on fish food which had an impact on improving the nutrition of the lower middle class, especially in developing countries. In addition, she published many scientific publications. According to data from Research Gate in 2021, there are 100 scientific publications that have been published by Dr. Thilsted both individually and in collaboration with other researchers.
She was the first in doing research about the nutritional composition of the small fish and aquatic food systems commonly found and consumed in Bangladesh and Cambodia. The results of his research show that high levels of various essential micronutrients and fatty acids in these fish can improve the quality of life in terms of positive cognitive development of children in the first 1000 days of their lives and improve the nutrition and health of their mothers. From this breakthrough, she then continued his various researches by developing approaches and innovations related to food production, distribution, and consumption that had an impact on improving the diet, nutrition, and livelihoods of millions of women, men, and children. They are vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies because they live in middle-to-bottom communities scattered in several countries in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific.
In Bangladesh, where her research on fish began with the long-term support of the Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA), Dr. Thilsted is recognized as more cost-effective in supplying nutrients to humans. This encourages the Bangladesh government to promote pond polyculture as a means of tackling the dangers of malnutrition. This approach has also helped Bangladesh become the world’s fifth-largest aquaculture producer and provide economic benefits to 18 million people. In more detail, women, in particular, have also benefited from greater economic opportunities through increased fish production, as 60 percent of women in Bangladesh are fish farmers either directly or indirectly.
Much of Dr. Thilsted in developing small-scale fish farming is due to the development of a pond poly-culture system, in which small and large fish species are bred together in water bodies and rice fields. Dr. Thilsted led the research revealing that raising different varieties of fish simultaneously increased total production and the nutritional value of production.
Dr. Thilsted also extends throughout the aquatic food production, processing, transport, sale, and consumption chain. For example, her research has resulted in the development of highly nutritious fish chutneys, as well as fish meals, helping to improve the diets of millions of pregnant and lactating women and their children.
Her pioneering work on nutrition in low- and middle-income countries in the Asian and African Region shows that fish and aquatic food systems are integral to food production, diet, culture, child and maternal health, and their well-being. Her scientific findings suggest that fish and aquatic foods should have a more central role in improving people’s nutrition in the future.
As a food scientist, the result of Dr. Thilsted’s research had a broad impact on a wide variety of disciplines and sectors. She is considered capable of developing a pond polyculture system, a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to breed small and large fish species together in home ponds, water bodies, and rice fields. Her innovations helped to significantly increase the quality, diversity, and quantity of the food available, driving a large-scale shift towards aquaculture production in Bangladesh. In addition, in terms of regulations, her innovation made the Government of Bangladesh recognize the pond polyculture system as an important innovation to meet national targets to tackle hunger, malnutrition, gender inequality, and poverty.
Source of Article / Bibliography Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted: The Winner of the World Food Prize in 2021:
World Fish Center.2021 WORLD FOOD PRIZE LAUREATE.accesed via https://worldfishcenter.org/wfp-2021/#:~:text=Dr.,fish%2C%20and%20aquatic%20food%20systems.. on May 11, 2021
World Food Prize Foundation .2021.Pioneering Aquatic Foods Researcher Awarded the 2021 World Food Prize. accessed via https://www.worldfoodprize.org/index.cfm/87428/48369/pioneering_aquatic_foods_researcher_awarded_the_2021_world_food_prize on May 11, 2021
ResearchGate. 2021.Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted. accessed via https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Shakuntala-Thilsted on May 10, 2021.