King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has been named the first recipient of the Borlaug Medallion -- an award given by the World Food Prize to honor humanitarian efforts across the globe.
World Food Prize officials tout the more than 2,000 projects Bhumibol has started in Thailand to improve agriculture, child health care and education.
"Since his accession to the throne in 1946, King Bhumibol has displayed an unwavering dedication to the well being of his subjects, and a deep concern that they have sufficient food and proper nutrition," said Kenneth Quinn, president of the Des Moines-based World Food Prize Foundation.
Recognized earlier this year by the UN as the "Development King," Bhumibol's projects have benefited millions of people across Thailand, with a focus on aiding ethnic groups and hill tribes in the mountain regions.
World Food Prize officials said the medallion is meant to honor international figures who have helped reduce hunger and poverty but would not normally be considered for the World Food Prize.
The medallion was named after Food Prize founder Norman Borlaug, an Iowan who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for a wheat variety that helped to fight starvation in India and Pakistan in the 1960s.
Quinn said Borlaug and Bhumibol have a "personal connection" that makes the king a fitting recipient for the medallion.
"Dr Borlaug tells of his visits to Thailand and the time he has spent meeting with his majesty and walking through the countryside with him as they discussed possible new approaches to agriculture," Quinn said.