From its inception, Dr. Norman Borlaug has been one of CIMMYT’s strongest animating forces. His impact on world hunger and poverty was significant. Dr. Borlaug fought for food security for the poor for nearly six decades and his example continues to serve as an inspiration for the entire organization.
Norman Ernest Borlaug (March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009) was an American agronomist, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate. He has been called "the father of the Green Revolution" and is often credited as having saved more lives than anyone in human history. Dr. Borlaug is one of only six people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Dr. Borlaug was an agronomist who helped millions of people with a very simple idea: teaching farmers in the developing world to escape poverty and hunger by growing more food, more efficiently.
Born in Iowa, Dr. Borlaug studied plant pathology at the University of Minnesota and was awarded his doctorate in 1941. Between 1944 and 1960, Dr. Borlaug served as the Rockefeller Foundation scientist in charge of wheat improvement under the Cooperative Mexican Agricultural Program. He later acted as a consultant to Mexico's Ministry of Agriculture, and was assigned to the Inter-American Food Crop Program as an associate director of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world.
Dr. Norman Borlaug
With the establishment of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico in 1963, Dr. Borlaug assumed leadership of the Wheat Program, a position he held until his official retirement in 1979. He remained a resident part-time consultant until his death. Borlaug spent most of his working life in Mexico, developing new types of high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat plants. These new wheat varieties and accompanying improvements in crop management practices revolutionized wheat production in Mexico in the mid-1950s.
By the mid-1960s, Dr. Borlaug brought his Mexican wheat plants to Asia, sparking the so-called "Green Revolution" in wheat production in India and Pakistan. Between 1964 and 2001, wheat production in India rose from 12 to 75 million tons, while wheat production in Pakistan increased from 4.5 to 22 million tons. India awarded Borlaug the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honor. The Green Revolution in food production made possible by Dr. Borlaug's work has touched the lives of farmers in other parts of Asia, as well as in Latin America and even many developed countries.
In 1983, Dr. Borlaug joined as a Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture at Texas A & M University. In 1988, he became President of the Sasakawa Africa Association and a Senior Consultant to Global 2000. From 1990-92, he was a member of the U.S. President's Council of Advisors for Science and Technology.
He also served on many advisory boards, including the international juries of the annual World Food Prize, sponsored by the John T. Ruan Foundation, and the annual Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger, sponsored by the Hunger Project. He has been honored by governments, universities, scientific societies, and farmers' associations in more than 30 countries.