India’s ‘father’ of the Green Revolution urges additional efforts

By Shawna Rowe

CIUDAD OBREGON, Mexico— M.S. Swaminathan has been credited as the father of the green revolution in India. Both a geneticist and resident of India, Swaminathan saw the great need to feed the people of his homeland.

“In 1947, the independence of India was born in the background of a starving country,” he said via a video presented at the Borlaug100 summit on Wednesday.

He contacted Norman Borlaug in 1960. In 1963, Borlaug came to India to begin work on new wheat varieties. After the 1963 growing season, those new varieties were producing three to four times more wheat than traditional ones. By 1966, the wheat revolution was in full-swing and wheat production reached 10 million tons.

“The enthusiasm, the conviction, the compassion that he brought was inspiring,” said Swaminathan. “We can overcome hunger.”

Still making efforts to combat food hunger, the Indian government passed the Right to Food Act in 2013 to provide legal rights for up to 75% of the population for greater access to food. This bill is believed to be part of the technological, agricultural and political changes necessary to eradicate hunger.

Original wheat varieties bred by Borlaug for use in India and nations with similar climates. Photo taken by Shawna Rowe at the CIMMYT field station.

Wheat varieties originally bred by Borlaug for use in India and nations with similar climates. Photo taken by Shawna Rowe at the CIMMYT field station in Ciudad Obregon.

Swaminathan hopes the legacy of Borlaug can encourage young people to take on the responsibility of fighting hunger and feeding the growing population of the world.

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