Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Norman Borlaug’s India visit, top US and Indian officials have paid glowing tributes to the legacy the father of the Green Revolution who helped India become self-reliant in food production.

Observing that Dr. Borlaug spent most of his time “building a vast army of hunger fighters” to carry forward his vision, Dr. Raj Shah, Administrator of USAID, said Dr. Borlaug spent his time in inspiring people around a very simple point that if tried one can “remove hunger in our” life time.

“If my father were here today, he would praise our dedication to the science and technology that will feed a hungry world. He would be happy to see that his work is being continued by dozens of organisations and countless scientists and farmers around the world,” said Jeanie Borlaug Laube, daughter of Norman Borlaug at an event organised by Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao at her residence.

“I know that my Dad would implore the policy makers of the world to learn from scientists who collaborate for the betterment of their people and the health of the planet. My Dad would also implore us all to hurry, for we cannot be complacent while people are starving. There are 7 billion people to feed now and by 2050 we will need to feed nine billion people,” Jeanie said.

Describing him as a “true hero,” Suzanne Heinen, Administrator, Foreign Agricultural Service, from the US Department of Agriculture, said Dr. Borlaug was a visionary and a scientific innovator.

Dr. Borlaug died on September 12, 2009 at the age of 95.

Although he began his life’s work in Mexico, his “grandest theatre of operations” as it has been termed was India, said Rao.

“He believed in thinking outside the box,” she said.

“The wheat seeds he brought to India were described as impossibly ideal, producing 4000-5000 kg of grain per hectare instead of the earlier 1000 kg norm,” she added.

Noting that Dr. Borlaug became the man who saved a billion lives, Rao said: “His name has become part of our zeitgeist, because he was one of those among us, who made miracles. There are not many like that, and we treasure his memory and his invaluable contribution to India’s development.”

“Dr. Borlaug left the world a heritage that includes billions of lives saved from the misery of starvation and inspired thousands of scientists worldwide who will continue to carry on his vision today and tomorrow,” Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said in his message sent for the occasion.

Mr. Pawar said Dr. Borlaug led the global crusade against hunger with a missionary zeal and over the years succeeded in saving billions of lives from starvation.

“He developed wheat varieties that were resistant to several diseases; could grow under diverse agro—climatic conditions and possessed high yield potential. Through his efforts, India received the ‘miracle seeds’ of these wheat varieties and supported by enabling policies and R&D programmes, ushered the “Green Revolution” placing our food security on a firm foundation,” he said.