Announcement of the World Food Prize Laureate and the Importance of Research in Achieving Global Food Security

Posted by Edward Kaska
June 20, 2014

On Wednesday, June 18, Secretary of State John Kerry delivered the keynote address at the World Food Prize announcement ceremony at the U.S. Department of State.  There, Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) was named the 2014 World Food Prize laureate.  Dr. Rajaram is honored for his efforts toward increasing world production of wheat -- a primary source of calories and protein for 4.5 billion people in over 100 countries -- by over 200 million tons in the years following the Green Revolution.  More than 480 high-yielding wheat varieties bred by Dr. Rajaram have been adopted by farmers in 51 countries on six continents.

Dr. Rajaram follows in the footsteps of Dr. Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution and founder of the World Food Prize, which honors individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world.  At CIMMYT, Dr. Rajaram once worked alongside Dr. Borlaug, whose own work involved the development of disease-resistant, high-yielding wheat varieties.  CIMMYT grew out of a collaboration between the Rockefeller Foundation and the Government of Mexico in the 1940s, and was officially founded in 1966 with Dr. Borlaug appointed director of its Wheat Program.

Research is an essential component of the U.S. global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future.  Through Feed the Future, the United States leads a comprehensive effort to end hunger and break the cycle of poverty and malnutrition.  The Feed the Future research strategy, developed in 2011, is based on the principle of sustainable intensification, or growing greater amounts of more nutritious food using fewer resources.  With the Feed the Future research strategy, the United States is using agricultural science to improve food security, nutrition and incomes for millions of smallholder farmers around the world.  This work is made possible through partnerships with international agricultural research centers like CIMMYT, through commercial ventures in the agriculture sector, and through collaboration with U.S. universities. 

Research with real-world application and global benefits, like Dr. Rajaram’s, doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it’s enabled by funding from the private sector, smart policies by national governments, and continued dedication of research institutions like CIMMYT to solving global challenges.  Today's announcement at the State Department reminds us of the necessity of research – alongside sustained investments from global donors, leadership from developing countries, responsible investment from the private sector, and active involvement of civil society -- to solving the challenge of global food insecurity and lifting millions out of poverty. 

About the Author: Edward Kaska serves as the Director of the Office of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Textile Affairs in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.

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