Dr. Norman Borlaug just passed away at the age of 95. he is called “the father of the Green Reolution”. He is claimed to have savede the lives of a billion people from the fate of starvation as a result of his ideas about enhancing ffood production globally. He was a humble guy as I recall and should serve as an inspiration to many around the globe. He stayed committed and active till the end trying to save lives through better agricultural seeds and techniques.
I had the chance to meet Dr. Borlaug in the mid-1970s when i was working on a Swedish project for IFIAS under the wing of the founder of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Dr. Walter Orr Roberts.
Working on a project on the “value of long-range forecasts”, I had chose to study the spring wheat region of Saskatchewan Province in Canada. Knowing little to nothing about wheat, I brazenly wrote a letter (there was no email then!) to Dr. Borlaug, director of CYMMYT (centro Internacional por mejoramente de maize y trigo). I say brazen, because I wrote a letter to a director even though i was just a postdoc. CYMMYT was the center for developing new high yield varieties of wheat and corn and at the time was setting up demonstration farms to show skeptical Mexican farmers that they could improve production and personal well-being by resorting to new varieties and methods of farming.
Within a short period of time I received a reply and was invited by Borlaug to visit CYMMYT in Mexico… and did so.
He was a gracious person and host, showing me various experimental plots and took the time to educate a neophyte on agriculture. Since that time much of my research has been on or around food security issues, at first in Africa and then worldwide. At first on land and then in the sea.
I, like many others, owed a lot to Borlaug, not just for his knowledge and wisdom, but for his caring. He deserved the Nobel Prize twice over!
When most people eat their evening meals around the world, they will likely have no idea how Norman Borlaug helped to put food on their tables at affordable prices. Such is the price of real fame I guess.
(written in a hotel on rue de Vaugirard in Paris, France).