WHEAT in 2014

Celebrating 100 years of Norman Borlaug

In 2014, a major wheat summit was held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Norman E. Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former CIMMYT wheat researcher.

Dr. Borlaug, who passed away in September 2009, received the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for developing wheat varieties and farming practices that were adopted throughout the developing world, saving more than a billion from starvation and contributing to decades of historically low food prices. To celebrate his life and legacy and inspire a new generation to carry on his work, the Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security in March 2014 brought together leaders, policymakers and senior researchers to discuss innovative approaches to increase food security.

The summit emphasized that agricultural research has tools to tackle challenges to wheat production, including use of untapped wheat diversity, new technology like genomic selection and precise ways to take readings on large breeding plots, and more intense but environmentally friendly farming practices. During the Summit, CIMMYT was honored with the World Food Prize Foundation Norman E. Borlaug Medallion, which recognizes organizations and heads of state who have made outstanding contributions to improving food security and nutrition.

Sanjaya Rajaram wins The 2014 World Food Prize

The 2014 World Food Prize was awarded to Sanjaya Rajaram, a former director of CIMMYT’s global wheat program, for his scientific research and critical breakthroughs in wheat breeding.

The Prize is the foremost international award recognizing individuals who advance human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. Under Rajaram’s leadership, the CIMMYT program developed 480 wheat varieties released in 51 countries on 6 continents and helping to increase world wheat production by more than 200 million tons per year. This is an unparalleled achievement.

By successfully cross-breeding winter and spring wheat lines – distinct genetic pools that had been separate for thousands of years – Rajaram and his scientists produced higher-yielding, more broadly adapted wheat plants. Rajaram also pioneered work at CIMMYT to combine minor genes conferring resistance to wheat rust disease — the crop’s most damaging nemesis. His other accomplishments include training or mentoring more than 700 scientists from dozens of developing countries. Rajaram donated US $20,000 of his prize money to CIMMYT to support training for a new generation of wheat breeders.

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