29 November 2003, Rome -- The 2003 A. H. Boerma Award for journalism was presented to Brazilian documentary film maker Marcelo Canellas and Reuters correspondent David Brough in recognition of their achievements in raising public awareness of global hunger, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today.

Since 1979, in recognition of the media's important role in the fight against hunger, FAO has presented the A.H. Boerma Award to journalists or groups of journalists from around the world who have helped focus public attention on food security and rural development in developing countries.

Boerma Award

Marcelo Canellas, one of Brazil's most well-respected documentary film makers and journalists, is famous for having brought tough and often sensitive issues to primetime television.

His reports and films have had a powerful impact - both in politics and among ordinary viewers.

In 2001 he made a series of five documentaries on the causes and effects of hunger in Brazil.

The series was viewed by some 35 million people and subsequently has helped to influence future political choices.

David Brough, a British journalist with international news agency Reuters for 18 years, is the Rome bureau commodities correspondent.

Brough reports on commodity markets in Italy and on the work of the three Rome-based food agencies - FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

His articles have increased understanding of complex food and agriculture issues, highlighting how the U.N. agencies battle world hunger.

Through his reporting he has not only brought major developmental issues to the fore but has also increased the understanding of the general public of the work of FAO.

Saouma Award

The biennial Edouard Saouma Award, given to local or national institutions which have implemented projects funded by FAO's Technical Cooperation Programme with particular efficiency, has been jointly presented to the Sichuan Provincial Plant Protection Station of China and the Nicaraguan Institute of Women.

Operating in China's Sichuan Province, the Provincial Plant Protection Station has managed to resolve a problem that the local rural community had been struggling with for some time.

Each year, some 1.5 million tonnes of wheat, rice and corn were lost in the fields, eaten by rodents.

A further million tonnes were lost in storage. Farmers, trained as part of the FAO project, adopted new techniques which cut the number of rodents by 93 percent as well as significantly reducing the number of rat-transmitted human diseases.

The Nicaraguan Institute of Women is a co-winner of the prize in recognition of its work to help rural women and its success in achieving gender awareness in government projects.

Thanks to their work, the number of projects with a specific women's component has increased from eight percent to 27 percent and participation in project-related training among women has risen from 31 percent to 40 percent.

Sen Award

The 2002 B.R. Sen Award for a field officer who has made an outstanding contribution to rural development, sustainable agriculture or food security, was given to Narendra Singh Tunwar of India.

Working in challenging conditions in Afghanistan, Tunwar set up the Improved Seed Enterprise, created to produce outstanding local varieties of wheat seed.

In over a decade, aided by locally-trained national staff, Tunwar produced 27 improved seed varieties, including 15 for wheat.

The 2003 Sen Award has gone to James William Everts, of the Netherlands. Everts broke new ground in Senegal by establishing a research and training centre for the environmental toxicology of pesticides.

The centre has trained a group of Senegalese experts in environmental ecotoxicology and evaluated the side-effects of all pesticides recommended by FAO for use against the Desert Locust. All three awards were presented during FAO's biennial Conference today.

They were established in recognition of former Director-Generals: Addeke Hendrik Boerma of the Netherlands, Binay Ranjan Sen of India and Edouard Saouma of Lebanon.

The Margarita Lizárraga Medal, given to a person or organization that has served with distinction in the application of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, was awarded to a non-governmental organization, the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) of Chennai (India) for its initiatives in promoting and disseminating the Code.

Luisa Guarneri-Hynd
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570 53738