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2014 World Food Prize Honors Critical Breakthroughs in Wheat

Jun 18, 2014

Press Contact: Megan Forgrave, Director of Communications
515.245.3794 (direct), 515.229.1705 (cell), or mforgrave@worldfoodprize.org

2014 World Food Prize Honors Critical Breakthroughs in Wheat

 
Click above for a print-friendly version of Dr. Rajaram's bio or visit this link for more

Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram of India and Mexico worked hand-in-hand with Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug and 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.

Washington, D.C. (June 18, 2014) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry today applauded the selection of eminent wheat breeder Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram as the 2014 World Food Prize Laureate during an announcement ceremony at the State Department where Secretary Kerry gave keynote remarks.

“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,” Kerry said. “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.”

Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin hosted the World Food Prize Laureate Announcement Ceremony and World Food Prize Chairman John Ruan III participated, as well. 

In announcing the name of the 2014 Laureate, Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, President of the World Food Prize, noted how highly appropriate it is to honor Dr. Rajaram – born in India and a citizen of Mexico – during the Borlaug Centennial Year.  

“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 upon his work, breaking new ground with his own invaluable achievements. His breakthrough breeding technologies have had a far-reaching and significant impact in providing more food around the globe and alleviating world hunger,” Quinn said. “Dr. Borlaug himself called Dr. Rajaram ‘the greatest present-day wheat scientist in the world’ and ‘a scientist of great vision.’ It is an honor to recognize Dr. Rajaram today for his development of an astounding 480 varieties of wheat, bred to offer higher yields, resistance to the catastrophic rust disease, and that thrive in a wide array of climates.” 

Born in a small village in India, Dr. Rajaram worked to be the top in his class as he moved through school, and dedicated his life to making direct improvements for farmers and all people who depend on agriculture. Now a citizen of Mexico, Dr. Rajaram conducted the majority of his research in Mexico at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). His work there led to a prodigious increase in world wheat production – by more than 200 million tons during the 25-year-period known as the “golden years of wheat” – building upon the successes of the Green Revolution.  

Dr. Rajaram succeeded Dr. Norman Borlaug in leading CIMMYT’s wheat breeding program, and developed an astounding 480 wheat varieties that have been released in 51 countries on six continents and have been widely adopted by small- and large-scale farmers alike. His crossing of winter and spring wheat varieties, which were distinct gene pools that had been isolated from one another for hundreds of years, led to his development of plants that have higher yields and dependability under a wide range of environments around the world.

As the World Food Prize celebrates the centennial year of his mentor, Dr. Norman Borlaug, as well as the UN-FAO’s International Year of Family Farming, it is especially fitting that we recognize the impact of Dr. Rajaram’s achievements.

Quinn also noted the importance of carrying forward the great work of leaders such as Dr. Borlaug and Dr. Rajaram as we endeavor to feed our growing population.

“100 years ago when Norm was born, the world population was 1.8 billion; today it is more than 7 billion and by 2050 it’s expected to exceed 9 billion. The greatest challenge in human history is whether we will be able to sustainably feed everyone on our planet. To that end, we will gather some of the greatest minds in science and agriculture in Des Moines October 15-17 at our Borlaug Dialogue symposium to explore that question,” Quinn said. “We are especially honored that His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, will deliver the keynote address at the conference. We invite all those with an interest in food security to join us in the effort to identify critical innovative solutions.”

MORE INFORMATION
A full biography, photos and more information about the 2014 Laureate are available at www.worldfoodprize.org/2014Laureate. Additional materials from the ceremony including Amb. Quinn’s remarks will be available in the news feed at www.worldfoodprize.org. Video clips from the Laureate Announcement Ceremony at the U.S. State Department will be available afterward at www.stateondemand.state.gov

Dr. Rajaram, who is the Director of Resource Seeds International and a consultant on multiple other wheat research programs, but will attempt to answer interview requests. Members of the media may reach him at rajaram_sanjay@yahoo.com. 

QUOTE FROM THE 2014 WORLD FOOD PRIZE LAUREATE:

“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.” – Dr. Sanjaya 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. Continuing his legacy, Iowa businessman John Ruan III now serves as chairman of the organization. A Selection Committee of experts from around the world oversees the nomination and selection process, and is chaired by Prof. M.S. Swaminathan of India, who was also honored as the first World Food Prize Laureate. 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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