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Finally, tribute to man behind Green Revolution

Four decades after American agronomist Norman E. Borlaug halted India's gruelling famines by giving seeds for a Green Revolution, the country will finally honour him appropriately by setting up a Borlaug Institute of South Asia.

delhi Updated: Aug 19, 2010 00:40 IST
Zia Haq and Jayanth Jacob

Four decades after American agronomist Norman E. Borlaug halted India's gruelling famines by giving seeds for a Green Revolution, the country will finally honour him appropriately by setting up a Borlaug Institute of South Asia.

With this, India will turn again to Mexico – where Borlaug was based -- for more gains. Farm minister Sharad Pawar will visit Mexico next month to roll out one of India's most expansive foreign collaborations on agriculture.

Borlaug, a Nobel winner, died last year. In the 1970s, India changed its farms for good by adopting his breakthrough seeds. The first thing Borlaug did was to replace Punjab's tall but low-yielding wheat varieties with dwarf but high-yielding ones.

Alongside, a right mix of policies — from cheap fertilisers to subsidised farm power — helped achieve what once looked impossible.

Though the Borlaug institute's location hasn't been finalised, many states, such as Punjab and Bihar, are vying for it, an official said.

Pawar will visit Borlaug's famous lab, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, and other institutes to mine for biotech breakthroughs, especially "alternate foods".

Mexico has transformed the lowly cactus into a high-nutrition "power food". Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal will accompany Pawar. Visiting Mexican foreign minister Patricia E. Cantellano has farm cooperation high on her agenda too.

Though India has pulled off record wheat yields, a second Green Revolution is long overdue, especially in drastically deficit items like pulses.

Mexico, on the forefront of farm R&D, could potentially spur another leap for India, analysts say.

Economists expect India's food demand to accelerate on the back of a growing population and higher per capita food consumption as incomes expand.