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Indian-born wheat scientist wins World Food Prize

Rajaram is credited with developing the ‘Veery’ lines of wheat in the 1980s.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: October 17, 2014 1:12:50 am

Sanjaya Rajaram, an eminent Indian scientist, has been awarded the World Food Prize in recognition of his significant contribution to global wheat production.

Currently a Senior Scientific Advisor at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, Rajaram has developed 480 wheat varieties, released in 51 countries across an estimated 58 million hectares.

His wheat improvement research has helped secure a 1.3 per cent rise in global wheat production per annum in the last four decades, an official release said.

Rajaram is credited with developing the ‘Veery’ lines of wheat in the 1980s, which were used to breed locally adapted high-yielding varieties in various wheat-growing countries.

PBW-343, a workhorse wheat variety grown in about 10 million hectares of India until recently, was based on the ‘Veery’ material that was bred at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) under Rajaram, said P L Gautam, a former chairperson of the Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers’ Rights Authority.

The ‘Veery’ lines resulted from a cross between a Russian winter wheat, ‘Kavkaz’, and a Mexican spring wheat, ‘Buho’. These new lines showed improved resistance to stripe and leaf rust pathogens, which helped create a second generation of high-yielding wheat.

Originally from a small farming community in UP, Rajaram spent his early career at CIMMYT where he served as Director of the Wheat Breeding Program. He worked for many years alongside the ‘Father of the Green Revolution’ Norman E Borlaug.

The World Food Prize, presented at the 2014 Borlaug Dialogue, currently being held in Des Moines, United States, from October 15-17, is the foremost international award recognising individuals whose achievements have advanced human development by increasing the quality, quantity, or availability of food.

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