2014 World Food Prize Honors Critical Breakthroughs in Wheat

Farmer Gene

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced on June 18 the selection of eminent wheat breeder, Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram, as the 2014 World Food Prize Laureate during a ceremony at the U.S. State Department. The World Food Prize highlights the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people. By honoring those who have worked successfully toward this goal, The Prize calls attention to what has been done to improve global food security and to what can be accomplished in the future.

Dr. Rajaram of India and Mexico worked closely with Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, and bred more than 480 varieties of wheat to provide nutritious grains that are resistant to rust and disease, and grains that are adaptable to a vast array of climates. Wheat production has increased by more than 200 million tons due to his prestigious scientific research. By building upon the successes of the Green Revolution, Dr. Rajam’s breakthroughs prove that there is hope to eliminating world hunger.

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. Said John Kerry during the Award Ceremony

Sanjaya Rajaram’s exceptional career began at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in 1969. He started out as a wheat breeder alongside Dr. Borlaug, but by the time he was only 29 years old, he was promoted to head of CIMMYT’s Wheat Breeding Program and then Director of the Global Wheat Program. After 33 years of service at CIMMYT, Rajaram then became the Director of Integrated Gene Management at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas. His innovations and research has led to release of bread and wheat in 51 countries, occupying more than 58 million hectares. Small and large-scale farmers around the world have benefitted from Rajaram’s work with high-yielding wheat.

I would like to conclude this blog post with one of my favorite quotes:

Now, frankly, we shouldn’t need to be told what happens when food becomes scarce and food prices spike… And that is why the struggle for food is truly the struggle for life itself.-John Kerry

Congratulations Dr. Rajaram!

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