World Food Prize Winner Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram Brought Nearly 500 Wheat Varieties to Farmers

Photo Credit: Amanda Brodhagen
Photo Credit: Amanda Brodhagen

Named in June, but celebrated this week in Des Moines, Iowa, Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram of India and Mexico was awarded the World Food Prize for his work in wheat breeding and development.

Working hand-in-hand with Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, Rajaram bred an impressive 480 varieties of wheat to provide nutritious grains resistant to rust disease and adaptable in a vast array of climates to feed more people. Borlaug called him “the greatest present-day wheat scientist in the world” for his leadership and innovations.”

Dr. Rajaram worked closely with Dr. Borlaug, succeeding him as head of the wheat breeding program at CIMMYT in Mexico, and then carried forward and expanded on his work, breaking new ground with his own invaluable achievements. His breakthrough breeding technologies are credited with having a significant impact in providing more food around the globe and alleviating world hunger.

“I felt highly honored to receive the news that the 2014 World Food Prize would be awarded to me, and through me, to hundreds and thousands of wheat researchers and farmers around the world. I believe that the challenges of 21st-century agriculture and food production are surmountable compared to the past and can be overcome provided we can bring together new knowledge and delivery systems to farmers in a very sustainable manner. Future crop production is bound to decline unless we fully factor in the issues related to climate change, soil fertility and water deficits, and utilize advanced genetics in the next 20 to 30 years. It will require all the resources from international research centers, national governments, foundations, NGOs and farmer groups together to synergize future agricultural technologies and food production,” says Dr. Rajaram

The World Food Prize was created in 1987 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug, and is the foremost international award recognizing individuals whose achievements have advanced human development by increasing the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The prize was endowed by John Ruan, Sr. The World Food Prize annually hosts the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium, which draws over 1,000 people from 65 countries to discuss cutting-edge issues in food security, and several youth education programs to inspire the next generation to explore careers in agriculture and fighting hunger.

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