The Unsung ‘Father Of Global Green Revolution’ Who Saved The World From Mass Starvation

Image Credits: MrReid, Borlaug100

Follow Us On

By the first half of the 20th century, the world had suffered the brunt of two consecutive and catastrophic world wars. Aside from the loss of families, friends, homes and jobs, the surviving population across the globe had a far bitter trauma to deal with – starvation. Wars incur unprecedented economic losses. Since the Great Depression of 1929, the food crisis had plagued thousands of lives and killed many more, especially in underdeveloped countries.

Following independence in 1947, India and her newborn neighbours like Pakistan were reeling under acute poverty, which, added on to an exponentially growing population, posed the threat of famines as dire as the infamous Bengal Famine of 1943.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

Norman Borlaug: The man who saved the war-ravaged world

In the late 1960s, noted biologist Paul Ehrlich floated his explosive theory of Population Bomb, which predicted that millions in the Indian subcontinent might perish as the food supply failed to multiply as fast as the population. However, in reality, such a drastic disaster could be prevented, all credits to one of the most unsung heroes of the world – Norman Borlaug.

The Nobel Peace Prize awardee American agronomist had also been awarded the Padma Vibhushan – the second-highest civilian honour from India, aside from the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal from his motherland.

Father of Worldwide Green Revolution

Recognised as the true father of the worldwide Green Revolution, Borlaug developed a miraculous strain of wheat that saved an entire planet from mass starvation. The semi-dwarf wheat strain, first piloted in Mexico by Borlaug, exhibited high yield, disease resistance and resilience to all weather and soil conditions. The variety thrived well in the Indian subcontinent, saving an undernourished population from impending doom.

Soon, the cultivation of his wheat strain spread like wildfire all over the world with developing countries importing Borlaug’s seeds in bulk. Production increased by nearly three times in the 30 years between 1960 and 2000.

Later, Borlaug reproduced his work on corn and rice as well, thereby ushering in the ‘Green Revolution’, which still holds relevance as a crucial chapter in the history of humanity.

Support the cause you care for. Browse All CampaignsBrowse all campaigns
Work in progress

Empower Poor Women To Rise Out Of Poverty

1,36,505 Raised
Out of 3,85,000

Share

 

 

A true-blue patriot

“I am the product of the worst of the depression,” Borlaug famously remarked in a 2002 interview with Dallas Observer. The depth of his simple comment can be properly comprehended if one chronicles his life – full of struggles, hard work and a heroic dedication.

Borlaug worked as a high school science teacher and later as a microbiologist with a chemical firm in the USA, before the 1941 Pearl Harbour attack which altered the trajectory of his life. A true patriot, Borlaug tried to enlist himself in the military following the incident. However, instead of a place on the battlefield, he was assigned to research and develop ingenious military supplies.

He discovered a seawater-resistant glue for the wooden military ships sailing across the Pacific, camouflage accessories, disinfectants as well as electronic equipments. They might sound simple, but each of these played a crucial role in assisting the sturdy American soldiers to survive the brutal war in foreign soils.

Wheat research in Mexico: A tale of sacrifices

However, these discoveries are actually the tip of the iceberg if we analyse Borlaug’s contribution to humanity. In June 1944, upon the invitation of Rockefeller Foundation, Borlaug joined the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program in Mexico the head geneticist.

The new program team set up camp in an abandoned agricultural station in Northern Mexico’s Yaqui Valley. Despite the absence of proper water, sanitation and electricity, Borlaug and his team worked day and night to develop a new rust-resistance, high-yield variety of wheat, that could solve the imminent food crisis in the continent.

It took around ten exhausting years for Borlaug to finally unveil his exceptional variety of wheat.

Borlaug later recounted the sacrifices he made for this experiment. He had left his wife and 14-month old daughter behind in the war-ravaged USA to carry out his research in a remote, inaccessible location in Mexico.

Saving India and her neighbours

It was Borlaug’s work in the Indian subcontinent in the early 1960s that deserves a special mention. India’s population was growing at an alarmingly high rate but the crop production couldn’t be enhanced accordingly. On top of that, ongoing wars with neighbouring countries created a famine-like scenario in parts of India.

As word about Borlaug’s wheat strain spread, in 1962, M. S. Swaminathan, Father of Green Revolution in India, invited Borlaug to Indian Agricultural Research Institute. Borlaug arrived in 1963 and supplied 100 kg of his seed to India.

However, owing to traditional habits and not much in-depth scientific know-how, Indian farmers were reluctant to sow Borlaug’s seeds and follow his instructions of advanced farming. But Borlaug was not a man to give up. He persuaded the whos who of agricultural ministry and in the following three decades, wheat production went up three times.

A superhero without a cape

Eventually, all the developing countries started importing Borlaug’s seeds and resorting to his methods to catalyse their production rates.

His incredible efforts, which managed to resist a worldwide famine in the face of the population bomb, earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. Other awards and honours followed soon after. The superhero who saved the world from hunger breathed his last on September 12, 2009, at the age of 95.

Borlaug once revealed his fascination with the rustling sound of wheat plants in the breeze. He devoted an entire lifetime with the crop, for the sake of humanity. Yet, despite his illustrious list of awards, very few in the world are aware of his contribution. It is high time the superhero is given the recognition he deserves.

Love this story? Want to share a positive story?
Write to us: [email protected]
Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram

Let us know your thoughts on this story

Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

Image Credits: MrReid, Borlaug100

Follow Us On

Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

Support the cause you care for. Browse All CampaignsBrowse all campaigns
Work in progress

Empower Poor Women To Rise Out Of Poverty

1,36,505 Raised
Out of 3,85,000

Share

Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

Let us know your thoughts on this story

Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
Next Click right arrow to read the next story Previous