By Shawna Rowe
CIUDAD OBREGÓN, Mexico — Ruth Wanyera, a plant pathologist from Kenya, knew Norman Borlaug as a great scientist when she first met him in 2005.
According to Wanyera, Borlaug had a strong desire to learn and promote progress even in his later years. This desire has inspired researchers like her, as well as farmers and politicians, to travel here to celebrate his work at the Borlaug 100 summit.
“I was so impressed by him bending down in the fields and taking notes from our researchers,” she said. “It was amazing.”
Borlaug frequently spoke of his personal connection to decreasing world hunger. Like Borlaug, Wanyera’s desire to do research comes from a deep connection to farmers.
“My research interest is to benefit farmers from my output,” said Wanyera, a leader at the National Wheat Research Program at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. With a master’s degree in crop production, she has been able to make progress with research focusing on eradicating crop diseases.
Her interests in the Borlaug 100 summit at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center are also rooted in long-term collaboration between CIMMYT and KARI. She was one of the first participants in the Global Rust Initiative, a program aimed at preventing the spread of rust, a disease that devastates wheat across the globe. Wanyera focuses heavily on wheat research but also addresses disease problems associated with soybeans, sunflower and rapeseed in Kenya.