Wheat Breeder Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram Wins 2014 World Food Prize
Date Posted: June 19, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry delivered the keynote address at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State on June 18, where eminent plant scientist, Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram of India and Mexico, was named winner of the 2014 World Food Prize for 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.
Dr. 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 Dr. Rajaram have been released in 51 countries on six continents and have been widely adopted by small- and large-scale farmers alike.
Dr. Rajaram followed Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, CIMMYT, leading its Wheat Program from 1976 to 2001.
Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin hosted the event, and World Food Prize Foundation President and former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Kenneth M. Quinn announced the winner.
This marks the 11th year the State Department has hosted the World Food Prize announcement.
Secretary 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 honored 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.
Through Feed the Future, a presidential global hunger and food security initiative, the United States is establishing a foundation for lasting progress against global hunger.
With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth, increase incomes, and reduce hunger, poverty, and undernutrition.
Feed the Future supports a research agenda to harness scientific innovation and technology in agriculture.
Ambassador Quinn said, "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.
"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.’”
This year marks the 28th anniversary of the $250,000 World Food Prize, which recognizes individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
The World Food Prize was established in 1986 by Dr. Borlaug in order to focus the world’s attention on hunger and on those whose work has significantly helped efforts to end it.
Dr. 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.
Each year, more than 4,000 institutions and organizations worldwide are invited to nominate candidates for the prize.
The award will be formally presented in a ceremony in October at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa.
The World Food Prize is guided by a distinguished Council of Advisors that includes former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush.
More information, including biographies of the laureates, is available at www.worldfoodprize.org.