Borlaug Institute to help upgrade agriculture

Crusade against hunger

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday announced that the Borlaug Institute of South Asia would be set up in the country soon. “This institute will facilitate availability of new and improved seeds and new technology to the farmers of India and other countries of South Asia,” he said while addressing the nation.

The institute is likely to be set up on a 500-acre plot at Pusa in Bihar. It is being established in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (or CIMMYT) and will work in close coordination with Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture based in Texas and other research centres in South Asian countries.

Nobel laureate agronomist Norman Borlaug’s works had saved over a billion people in India and Pakistan from starvation in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“In the history of Indian agriculture, Norman Borlaug commands a special place. About 40 to 50 years ago, he developed new and more productive seeds of wheat. Under the leadership of Indira Gandhiji, India achieved the Green Revolution by adopting these seeds,” said Singh.

Borlaug, who was born in the US and did his PhD in plant pathology and genetics from the University of Minnesota, developed semi-dwarf, high-yield and disease-resistant wheat varieties during his researches in Mexico.

He later introduced these wheat varieties with advanced agricultural technologies in Mexico, which as a result turned into a net exporter of the grains in early 1960s. In recognition of his contribution in helping nations like India and Pakistan achieve food security and thus promoting world peace, Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

After Borlaug passed away at the age of 95 in Dallas on September 12, 2009, the CIMMYT proposed to collaborate with Indian Government to set up the Borlaug Institute of South Asia in the country for the benefit of all the nations in the region.

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