CIUDAD OBREGÓN, SONORA, MEXICO, 25 MARCH 2010 –The lovely weather and colorful setting of Norman E. Borlaug’s beloved Mexico graced the morning on what would have been his 96th birthday. Several hundred former friends, colleagues, and Mexican farmers and dignitaries gathered at the experiment station he loved and where he did his most important work to unveil an impressive monument in his honor and to hold a ceremony to rename the Ciudad Obregón station in his memory.
At the center of the superbly organized celebration in honor of Borlaug, who died in September 2009, was his daughter, Jeannie Borlaug Laube. She unveiled an impressive monument including a large, bronze statue of Borlaug looking out toward the Yaqui Valley and, in accord with her father’s wishes, deposited his ashes in the monument, thanking guests for their life-long support of his work. “As you know, my father always loved Mexico and felt at home here,” she said.
In addition to Borlaug Laube, the presidium of speakers included Pedro Brajcich, director of Mexico’s National Institute of Forestry, Livestock, and Agricultural Research (INIFAP); Francisco Javier Mayorga Castañeda, the Mexican Secretary of Agriculture; Guillermo Padrés Elías, the Governor of the state of Sonora; Antonio Gándara, president of the southern branch of the Sonora farmers association Patronato; and CIMMYT director general Thomas A. Lumpkin. Part of the ceremony was the public announcement of the change in name of the experiment station from “Centro de Investigación Regional del Noroeste” (CIRNO) to “Campo Experimental Norman E. Borlaug” (CENEB).
Lumpkin conveyed CIMMYT’s gratitude to Mayorga Castañeda for the special “Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Research Fund” of USD 1 million from the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries, and Food (SAGARPA), launched in October 2009 to support applied agricultural research and technology transfer projects. He thanked the Sonora Governor for the state’s support for research on Ug99, among other areas of center work. He also had special words of appreciation for Patronato, calling the 65-year collaboration with Sonora farmers “…the center’s oldest research partnership.”
“Our collaboration with Mexican scientists, public officials, and producers half a century ago resulted in agricultural technologies that transformed farming worldwide,” Lumpkin said. “Given the extreme challenges to food security and natural resource management that humanity faces today, a new productivity transformation is needed. We hope that Mexico is returning to the leading role it played in the 1960s, when it made valuable contributions to fighting the hunger that affected millions on our planet.”