Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram on Wednesday was named the 2014 World Food Prize Laureate during a ceremony at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.
Rajaram, who worked hand-in-hand with Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, bred 480 varieties of wheat to provide nutritious grains resistant to rust disease and adaptable in a vast array of climates to feed more people.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry participated in the ceremony. "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," he said.
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 (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) in Mexico, and then carried forward and expanded upon his work, breaking new ground with his own invaluable achievements," Quinn said.
"Dr. Borlaug himself called Dr. Rajaram 'the greatest present-day wheat scientist in the world' and 'a scientist of great vision.'"
Born in a small village in India, Rajaram dedicated his life to making direct improvements for farmers and all people who depend on agriculture.
Now a citizen of Mexico, Rajaram conducted the majority of his research in Mexico at 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.
Rajaram's crossing of winter and spring wheat varieties – which were distinct gene pools that had been isolated from one another for hundreds of yearsi – led to his development of plants that have higher yields and dependability under a wide range of environments around the world.
Source: World Food Prize