October 15, 2014

Norman Borlaug Centennial Q&A with Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram

This post was originally published by the World Food Prize Foundation. The 2014 Borlaug Dialogue international symposium is being held from October 15-17 in Des Moines, Iowa to address the question: “Can we sustainably feed the 9 billion people on our planet by the year 2050?”

Norman Borlaug Centennial Q&A's with Experts

In order to shine a spotlight on the amazing agricultural work being done today, and in honor of the Borlaug Centennial year, The World Food Prize invited 2014 Borlaug Dialogue speakers and experts from around the globe to respond to questions regarding their work, their goals and their inspiration.

Sanjaya Rajaram, PhD, Wheat Breeder and 2014 World Food Prize Laureate; Resource Seeds International, Mexico and India

If Norman Borlaug posed the following questions to youwhat would you tell him?

Q: What’s the one thingthe single most importantthat we need to address to solve food insecurity?

A: Perhaps there is enough food produced in the world. The most pressing problems I see are the lack of income and consequently buying power. Unemployment or under-employment is very high in low income sectors of society, especially in developing countries such as India. Some kind of training for work would solve this problem.

Q: Do you think we can feed 9 billion people by the year 2050? If so, why? If not, why not?

A: My response is that we can.  Some technological and policy interventions are needed.

These are applications of biotechnological tools, such as GM technology, to offset the effects of climate change, balancing the soil health through ameliorating micronutrients, optimizing the water use efficiency and embracing hybrid technology on a large scale, global scenario, especially on small farms.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to young people?

A: Try to broaden the horizon of knowledge through a multidisciplinary approach. Do not see science through the eye of a needle; try to see the forest and not one tree. Do not get discouraged if failures come. Do not give up.

Q: What’s one thing the general population could do to make an impact on global food security?

A: In developing countries, need to bring the population down. There is no short cut to it for food security. Through technological interventions we only buy time.

Q: Share with us one of your most unique life experiences and what it taught you.

A: Humility does not mean weakness, rather respect for others. My life mission remains service to others in the broader aspect. I really do not accept failures as defeat.



The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

Institute Insights, Bread for the World Institute

End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

The Global Food Banking Network

Harvest 2050, Global Harvest Initiative

The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog, Humanitas Global Development

International Food Policy Research Institute News, IFPRI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Blog, CIMMYT

ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

Sense & Sustainability Blog, Sense & Sustainability

WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA