Celebrating Dr. Borlaug’s Legacy

Posted by on August 14th, 2013 | 0 Comments »

With the annual World Food Prize and Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa, only two months away, the Global Harvest Initiative and our Consultative Partner organizations are collaborating as we prepare our 4th annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) for release on October 16.  Our focus on agricultural productivity is inspired by the science and technological innovation pioneered by Dr. Norman Borlaug, founder of the World Food Prize and Borlaug Dialogue events.

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(pictured right to left) Mrs. Jeanie Borlaug Laube and Ms. Julie Borlaug, daughter and granddaughter of Dr. Norman Borlaug, along with Ambassador Rao commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Borlaug’s visit to India in August, 1963

There are many reasons to celebrate the success of Dr. Norman Borlaug’s work to help feed the world.  On Wednesday, August 7th, I joined over 100 representatives from the U.S. State Department, USDA, USAID, NGO’s, and science and technology companies at the Indian Ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Norman Borlaug’s first visit to India, where he began his pioneering work to help produce more wheat for Asia.  The evening was a special occasion to mark how Dr. Borlaug’s research and field trials in both Mexico and India translated directly into more food for hungry people and better lives for the wheat farmers across India and Pakistan.

The Indian Ambassador, Her Excellency Nirupama Rao, delivered a magnificent tribute to the hard work, unrelenting passion, and scientific application of knowledge that Dr. Borlaug applied on his first trip to India in August, 1963.  In her speech about Dr. Borlaug, the Ambassador noted:

“He believed in thinking outside the box. The wheat seeds he brought to India were described as impossibly ideal, producing 4000-5000 kg. of grain per hectare instead of the earlier 1000 kg. norm. Our then Agriculture Minister, Mr. C. Subramaniam took the overnight, historic decision to approve the proposal by Dr. M.S. Swaminathan to allow for immediate farmer trials of the wheat varieties whose productivity had thus been demonstrated. The results were dramatic and they catalyzed a revolution. Decades before Twitter or Facebook, the word spread at lightning pace as farmers throughout India told their peers about the new varieties and the difference they were making in production of wheat.”

Dr. Borlaug’s legacy continues today. At the celebration, the Ambassador especially noted the ongoing contributions to Dr. Borlaug’s life and legacy through the work of his daughter, Mrs. Jeanie Borlaug Laube, and granddaughter, Ms. Julie Borlaug, Associate Director of the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture.  As the countdown to this year’s World Food Prize and Borlaug Dialogue continues, we should remember the hard work done on the ground by farmers, scientists, and innovators to produce more food and sustain the environment.  We celebrate their contributions and must, like Dr. Borlaug, continue to “think outside the box” to extend knowledge and helpful farming technology to those farmers who need it the most.

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