A legacy lives on

May 8, 2011

tolucaOn Friday 29 April 2011, Nobel Prize Laureate and father of the Green Revolution, Norman E. Borlaug, was awarded an honorary doctorate (postmortem) from the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Mexico (UAEM) for his lifelong work to improve modern agriculture.

Although Norman E. Borlaug died in September 2009, his legacy lives on through his many contributions to the development of global agriculture, CIMMYT included. Because of his unwavering determination to feed the world, a ceremony was held at UAEM, Toluca, MX, where Eduardo Gasca Pliego, UAEM President honored Norman E. Borlaug. Dr. Borlaug’s daughter Jeannie Borlaug Laube came down from Texas to receive the honorary doctorate and speak of her father’s work in Mexico, and Toluca specifically, delivering a heartfelt speech in which she fondly recalled her life in Mexico.

CIMMYT Director General Thomas A. Lumpkin attended as one of the speakers for the event, stating:  “(Borlaug) was our spiritual father. His legacy and presence are a part of all of our projects and activities… Many of his values – pragmatism, honesty, hard work, creative problem solving –are reflected in CIMMYT’s culture.”  Lumpkin also expressed his regret that Dr. Borlaug had not lived to witness the launching of MasAgro –a comprehensive initiative of the Mexican Agricultural Secretariat-SAGARPA, CIMMYT, dozens of public and private Mexican organizations, and Mexican farmers to raise crop yields, combat environmental degradation, and confront climate change. He stated that MasAgro has been an integral step in rebuilding the relationship between CIMMYT and Mexico, the decline of which was one of Borlaug’s greatest concerns. Lumpkin added that the launching of MasAgro “… has demonstrated just how far CIMMYT has come in preventing Dr. Borlaug’s fears from coming true.”

The collaboration between UAEM and CIMMYT was also highlighted during the event. As part of MasAgro, the establishment of a long-term, conservation agriculture research plot on the university campus is in the final stages of approval. Research staff of the university will also be involved in testing improved maize varieties as part of MasAgro. Also recognized were the Agriculture Faculty Director, Artemio Balbuena Melgarejo, and scientists María de Guadalupe Gutiérrez and Andrés Morales Osorio for the integral role they have played in building the relationship between the UAEM and CIMMYT. Global Wheat Program Director Hans-Joachim Braun and 20 current and former CIMMYT staff also attended the event, including former CIMMYT wheat researcher and director Sanjaya Rajaram and several specialists who had worked with Dr. Borlaug beginning in the 1950s.