Islamabad: Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research (MNFSR) Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan paid tribute to the services of late Norman Ernest Borlaug to humanity for introducing semi-dwarf, high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat varieties in mid-20th century in South Asia and other parts of the world that ushered in Green Revolution and saved millions of people from hunger and starvation.
The Minister was addressing an august forum gathered here in Islamabad for celebration of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug’s 100th Birthday and commemoration of 50 years of Pakistan-US cooperation in agriculture.
As a result of introduction of high yielding wheat varieties combined with modern agricultural production in Pakistan, the latter was able to double the wheat yield and attain self-sufficiency in wheat production thus improving the food security situation in the country.
The President Mamnoon Hussain graced the occasion as Chief Guest, which was attended, among others, by Richard Olson, US Ambassador for Pakistan, Seerat Asghar Secretary MNFSR, Ms Jeanie Borlaug Laube, daughter of late Norman Borlaug and also Head of Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI), Malik Zahoor Ahmad Director General NAPHIS, Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad Chairman Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), Dr. Tom Lecmpkin Director General International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), and senior officials of MNFSR, agriculture scientists, researchers and members of academia.
Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for MNFSR said that Norman Borlaug was a great agricultural scientist who will be remembered in the annals of history for his contribution in reducing hunger and malnutrition from the world.
The minister said that Pakistan was facing a famine like situation in 1960s when Norman Borlaug came up with new wheat varieties that enhanced the yield potential of wheat.
‘The new varieties released initially like Mexi-Pak not only increased wheat productivity but also reduced risks of crop failure and enabled farmers to grow wheat in a wide range of environments’, elaborated the minister.
The foundation laid by Dr. Norman Borlaug resulted in the release of more than 130 varieties over the last 50 years in Pakistan that enhanced wheat varietal diversity resulting in increase in wheat productivity.
The minister further said that both researchers and farming communities were indebted to Norman Borlaug for his contribution in reducing production risks and ensuring stable food availabilities in Pakistan.
The Federal Minister also acknowledged the contribution of Dr. S.A. Qureshi and Dr. Manzoor Ahmad Bajwa who worked closely with Dr. Norman E. Borlaug for developing earlier Mexi-Pak type varieties in Pakistan that led to increased food supply.
The minister also welcomed Ms. Jeanie Borlaug, daughter of late Norman Borlaug, on the occasion of her father’s 100th birthday celebrations in Pakistan. The minister further stated that the foundation stone of a new Borlaug Institute laid by Ms. Jeanie yesterday (22-04-2014) at National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) was a landmark development in the institutionalization of the Norman Borlaug’s breeding initiatives.
The minister also expressed hope that following the guidelines laid by Dr. Norman Borlaug, the latter’s legacy in the form of continuous agriculture research and development will continue to ensure future food security.
Seerat Asghar Secretary MNFSR, during his address, said that responsibility lay on policy makers and scientists to carry on the legacy of Dr. Borlaug to eliminate the fear of hunger.
He further stated that collective hard work, dedication and commitment were required to achieve the ultimate goal of Dr. Borlaug-the end of hunger from the world.
Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad Chairman PARC, Dr. Tom Lumpkin Director General CIMMYT and Clay Hamilton Agricultural Counsellor at US Embassy, in their speeches, stressed on the need for a new, sustainable and more productive Green Revolution to cater to the food needs of burgeoning population around the world and to be ever vigilant to late Dr. Borlaug’s caution: ‘Hunger never sleeps’.