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Nutrition scientist Dr. Shakuntala Thilsted awarded the 2021 Arrell Global Food Innovation Award | WorldFish

A woman holding mola fish in Khulna, Bangladesh.
This award honors Dr. Thilsted as the first to identify the nutritional value of small fish species such as these Mola in Khulna, Bangladesh and their life-changing health benefits for children and mothers. Image Credit: Yousuf Tushar/WorldFish.

This story is adapted from a WorldFish announcement

Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, Global Lead for Nutrition and Public Health at WorldFish and member of the Blue Food Assessment Scientific Leadership Team, was named the recipient of the 2021 Arrell Global Food Innovation Award for her pioneering nutrition-sensitive approaches to aquatic food systems, in both fisheries and aquaculture, that ​​honor local, culturally appropriate solutions to improve the nutrition, health and development of children and mothers across Asia, Africa and the Pacific.

I am honored to receive the 2021 Arrell Food Innovation Award. This is an important recognition of the essential but often overlooked role of fish and aquatic food systems in agricultural research for development.

Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted

The award celebrates Thilsted as the first to identify the nutritional value of small fish species such as Mola and Trey Changwa Plieng, native to Bangladesh and Cambodia. This breakthrough showed that these commonly found and consumed small fish are rich in micronutrients and essential fatty acids that offer life-changing benefits for children’s cognitive development in their first 1000 days of life and the nutrition and health of their mothers.

Her nutrition-sensitive approaches to food production from land and water have put nutrition and public health outcomes at the forefront, with due consideration for equal access to and affordability of diverse nutritious foods for all and environmental health and sustainability. For the last 10 years, Thilsted has been leading WorldFish’s efforts to adapt and scale these approaches across countries in Asia, Africa and the Pacific where aquatic foods are central to local diets, livelihoods and culture.

This year, Thilsted was also awarded the 2021 World Food Prize, she is a member of the Steering Committee of the High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on Food Security and Nutrition and Vice-Chair for Action Track 4: Advance Equitable Livelihoods of the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit 2021

Read the full announcement

Hear more from Dr. Thilsted at the recent Blue Food Assessment Global Launch Event