Eminent Indian plant scientist, Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram, has been named winner of the 2014 World Food Prize in recognition of his outstanding work in the improvement of wheat crop.
Rajaram, who is now settled in Mexico, is credited with increasing world wheat production by more than 200 million tons in the years following the Green Revolution, which has had a far-reaching impact in alleviating world hunger.
World Food Prize Foundation President Kenneth M. Quinn announced the $250,000 World Food Prize winner at an event at the US State Department Wednesday.
The World Food Prize was established in 1986 by Dr. Norman Borlaug to focus the world’s attention on hunger and on those whose work has significantly helped efforts to end it.
It recognizes individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
Borlaug earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work as a plant breeder and for taking new agricultural practices to developing nations around the world.
The award will be formally presented to Rajaram in a ceremony in October at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa.
Rajaram’s breakthrough achievement in successfully cross breeding winter and spring wheat varieties, which were distinct gene pools that had been isolated from one another for hundreds of years, led to his developing plants that have higher yields and a broad genetic base.
More than 480 high-yielding wheat varieties bred by Rajaram have been released in 51 countries on six continents and have been widely adopted by small- and large-scale farmers alike.
Rajaram followed Borlaug at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), leading its Wheat Programme from 1976 to 2001.
“The 2014 World Food Prize Laureate is an individual who worked closely with Dr. Borlaug in Mexico and who then carried forward and extended his work, breaking new ground with his own achievements,” Quinn said.
“As we celebrate the United Nations International Year of Family Farming, it is most fitting that the 2014 World Food Prize Laureate is an individual who has truly fulfilled Dr. Borlaug’s last words: ‘Take it to the farmer.'”
In a keynote address at the ceremony, US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “When you do the math, when our planet needs to support two billion more people in the next three decades, it’s not hard to figure out: This is the time for a second green revolution.”
“That’s why Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram is being honoured with the World Food Prize. We are grateful for the hundreds of new species of wheat Dr. Rajaram developed, which deliver 200 million more tons of grain to global markets each year and feed millions across the world.”
“Dr. Rajaram’s work serves as an inspiration to us all to do more, whether in the private or public sector,” Kerry said.
Through Feed the Future, a presidential global hunger and food security initiative, the US is establishing a foundation for lasting progress against global hunger, he said.