Grain News


Wheat Community Gathers to Celebrate Norman Borlaug

Date Posted: April 4, 2014

Manhattan, KS—The work of Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and father of the Green Revolution, was celebrated at the Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security in Ciudad Obregon in Mexico in late March.

More than 700 representatives of the wheat research industry from 67 different countries attended the conference.

Kansas Wheat Commission Chairman Ron Suppes, Dighton, and Aaron Harries, director of marketing for Kansas Wheat, were in attendance.

The summit brought together researchers, policymakers and representatives of leading agricultural research-for-development organizations from around the world to celebrate the life and legacy of tireless hunger-fighter Borlaug and inspired a new generation to carry on his mission.

In 1945, Dr. Borlaug started his Nobel Peace Prize winning work in the Yaqui Valley where Obregon is located in the western Mexico state of Sonora.

The Yaqui Valley is the cradle of the Green Revolution.

To this day, producers in the Yaqui Valley maintain their enthusiastic support for national and international wheat research and are proud that the work conducted in Obregon has made significant impacts around the world.

Keynote speakers included Howard Buffett, Chairman and CEO of the Howard Buffett Foundation and Dr. Robert Fraley, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Monsanto.

Kansas State University research geneticist Jesse Poland spoke about genomic selection and precision phenotyping technology.

The summit was preceded by a field day at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).

CIMMYT is the world's premier center for research, development, and training in maize and wheat and farming systems for those two essential food crops.

From its headquarters in Mexico and offices throughout the developing world, the center works with partners across the globe to reduce poverty and hunger by sustainably increasing the productivity of maize and wheat cropping systems.

CIMMYT grew out of a pilot program sponsored by the Mexican government and the Rockefeller Foundation in the 1940s to 1950s to raise Mexico's farm productivity.

The wheat specialist in this program, Norman Borlaug, worked with Mexican researchers and farmers to develop strong, short-stemmed varieties that resisted the rust diseases and gave much more grain than traditional varieties.

Having been bred and selected at diverse Mexican locations, the new wheat lines were adapted to many types of farm settings.

They helped Mexico attain self-sufficiency for wheat in the 1950s and were imported by India and Pakistan in the 1960s to reduce famine, soon bringing those countries record harvests.

This led to the widespread adoption of improved varieties and farming practices, called the "Green Revolution."

Norman Borlaug's final words were "Take it to the farmer."

His last command reflected his firm belief that farmers could provide abundant food when given the proper tools.

CIMMYT was formally launched in 1966.

Borlaug received the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the Green Revolution, worked as a CIMMYT wheat scientist and research leader through 1979 and remained a distinguished consultant for the center until his death in 2009.

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