Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Hunger crusader Norman Borlaug dies


Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate renowned for his commitment to fighting hunger in the developing world, has died at the age of 95.

Borlaug, who passed away two days ago (12 September), was a respected wheat scientist and widely regarded as the father of the 'Green Revolution' — the period between 1960 and 1990 when food production quadrupled in India and Pakistan and more than doubled around the rest of the world.

Working in Mexico in the 1950s Borlaug and his team created disease-resistant, high-yielding wheat varieties — now grown throughout the world — and developed improved farming methods. Their work is seen by many as instrumental in saving millions of people from starvation and led the way for science-based agriculture in developing countries.

M. S. Swaminathan, India's leading agricultural scientist, told The Hindu: "He was a man of extraordinary humanism, commitment to a hunger-free world and knew no nationality… He is the greatest hunger-fighter of all time. His contribution was multidimensional — scientific, political and humanistic."

Borlaug is so far the only person to have won a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting hunger. Presenting him with the prize in 1970, Nobel Committee chairman Aase Lionaes said: "More than any other single person his age, he has helped to provide bread for a hungry world". Borlaug played a key role in launching the World Food Prize in 1986 — now considered the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture.

That same year, Borlaug — together with then-US president Jimmy Carter and the Nippon Foundation of Japan — established an agricultural programme for Africa. Since its inception, Sasakawa-Global 2000 has fostered the transfer of agricultural technologies to millions of small farmers.

Thomas Lumpkin, director general of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), said in a statement: "Today we stand bereft of Borlaug’s physical presence, but not of his spirit or ideals. Norm once said: 'I personally cannot live comfortably in the midst of abject hunger and poverty and human misery.' Millions of small-scale farmers in developing countries today still practise low-input, subsistence agriculture, condemning them and their families to lives of poverty ... The world cannot be at peace until these people are helped to feed themselves and escape poverty."

We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.