Stories tagged: norman borlaug

Rice Nutrition Management Pioneer Dr. Xuhua Zhong Wins IFA Norman Borlaug Award

The International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) has awarded crop physiologist Dr. Xuhua Zhong this year’s IFA Norman Borlaug Award for his achievements in rice nutrition management in China.

Dr. Zhong, head of the Crop Physiology and Ecology Laboratory at the Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences, developed the ‘three controls’ technology. The process incorporates control of nitrogen (N) input, control of unproductive tillers and control of pest and diseases. It is now one of the most widely adopted rice-growing technologies in China and officially recommended to farmers by the Ministry of Agriculture.

IFA explained the impact of Dr. Zhong’s work: “With the ‘three controls’ technology, nitrogen recovery efficiency increased from less than 30 percent for farmer’s practice to 40 percent. Farmers can now save on inputs such as fertilizer-N and pesticide sprays and still achieve a 10 percent increase in grain yield, giving extra income to farmers.”

IFA presents the Norman Borlaug Award annually on the birth date of the Father of the Green Revolution. Each year, it recognises research that has led to significant advances in crop nutrition.

The announcement this year comes as influential figures in the fight against global hunger gather in Mexico to celebrate  Dr. Norman Borlaug’s 100th birthday.

Nominations Open for the IFA Norman Borlaug Award 2011

The IFA Norman Borlaug Award, in recognition of achievement in crop nutrition work, has been opened for nominations for the 2011 awards.

The award is offered every year by the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) to an individual for work that has led to significant progress in crop nutrition and that has been communicated successfully to farmers.

The IFA Award alternates on a 4-year cycle, celebrating both research and knowledge transfer successes in both developed and developing countries.

This year’s prize will be awarded for research in developed countries and in international agricultural research and development centres. Any individual involved in crop or soil science is eligible to apply. The recipient of the IFA Norman Borlaug Award will receive 10,000 euros and will be invited as a guest to the IFA Annual Conference to be held form 23 to 25 May 2011 in Montreal, Canada.

The award is named after Dr Norman Borlaug who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his contribution to fighting hunger around the world.

Please visit the IFA’s webpage for further details about the nomination procedure.

Book Review: “Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty”


Two veteran Wall Street Journal reporters, Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, have teamed up to write a book addressing one of the most pressing questions of the 21st-century: global hunger.

The authors ask why hunger persists when the technology and tools already exist to feed the world:

Since the time of the Green Revolution, the world has known how to end famine and tame chronic hunger.  We have the information and tools.  But we haven’t done it.  We explored the heavens.  We wired the world for the Internet…. Yet somehow we haven’t eliminated the most primitive scourge of all.

In the opening chapters, Kilman and Thurow introduce the work of Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Prize-winning plant scientist who died on Saturday at the age of 95.  Back in the 1940s, Borlaug was assigned to a newly launched research centre in Mexico to train Mexican scientists how to boost farm productivity through plant breeding experiments.

Over the next two decades, Borlaug’s research helped boost wheat yields in the research areas almost seven-fold, from 11 bushels per acre in the early 1940s to as much as seventy-five bushels per acre in 1960.  Borlaug then travelled elsewhere in the Americas and across to Asia to demonstrate the potential yields which these new varieties could produce and to convince policymakers and farmers to adopt them to feed their growing populations.  (Apparently, the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ripped up her flower garden to plant the new wheat varieties.)

And thus, the Green Revolution was born.  Demographic projections of mass famine and a population implosion were prevented, and the global supply of food exploded.

Yet around the same time, shifts in global agricultural policy began to shift.  Starting in the early 1980s, newly independent former colonies in Africa and Asia started to see a reversal in the foreign assistance being given to agricultural development (inputs, infrastructure, extension training, and research support).  In addition, the money being targeted at the alleviation of hunger came in the food of foreign-grown food aid shipped into areas of need.

A generation later, in the summer of 2008, the world went through a global food crisis where prices doubled and tripled for many staple foods and global reserve stocks of grain were reduced to dangerously low levels.  Kilman and Thurow argue that the time is right for a broad reinvestment into agriculture, similar to how the United States rallied to support the Marshall Plan for Europe in the aftermath of World War II.

The authors argue that public sentiment is in favour of increased support to feed the hungry, and social and political stability are increasingly under threat from those without sufficient resources to subsist.  They present a range of options, from investment in infrastruture and new seed technologies to policy reforms relating to how national budgets are allocated and how trade regulations are drawn up.

Africa is a particular target as it is seen as “the world’s final frontier of agriculture” where yields are still low and modern agricutural practices are often non-existent.  Coupled with a rapidly increasingly population, African farmers will be expected to double their production by 2030 in order to simply meet their own people’s food demands.  This will be no small feat, and it would require a coordinated, collaborative approach to see it through successfully.

Green Revolution Advocate Calls for Policy Shift to Help Farmers Feed the World

A recent commentary piece by Norman Borlaug in the Wall Street Journal explains how empowering farmers can help them feed the world and improve their own livelihoods.

Borlaug, a Texas professor and winner of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize, helped drive the first green revolution in countries such as Mexico and India by increasing the development and access to technologies which help boost farmers’ productivity.

In his article, Borlaug praises the recent decisions of world leaders to begin “focusing on growing food versus giving it away” as a “giant step forward”.  He argues that farmers, especially those in developing countries, need better and more inputs such as better seed and fertilizer:

Given the right tools, farmers have shown an uncanny ability to feed themselves and other, and to ignite the economic engine that will reverse the cycle of chronic poverty.  And the escape from poverty offers a chance for greater political stability in their countries as well.

Doubling food production over the next half century to meet global demand will be made even more difficult with a fixed or shrinking supply of land, he argues, as well as the present and future impacts of climate change.