B is for Borlaug — an A to Z Series about Agriculture

Wow. I’m already having a really tough time picking out which word to go with even though I limited myself to agricultural words. The leading candidates for today were:

  • Bales! I have to love that Eileen Crosby went for the sentimental favorite highlighting my love of cotton & the way it is packaged for transportation and storage.
  • Bacon is a word that can garner all sorts of support!
  • I was thinking about bees because we all need those pollinators but we tend to overlook them.
  • Tracey Sullivan suggested bushel — the unit of measurement for so many crops.
Norman Borlaug

Norman Borlaug in 1964, scoring wheat plants for rust resistance in wheat breeding plots near Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, northern Mexico, at what is now CIMMYT’s CENEB station (Campo Experimental Norman E. Borlaug, or The Norman E. Borlaug Experiment Station).
Photo credit: CIMMYT via Flickr

But I decided I had to go with Borlaug. Norman Borlaug to be exact though in agricultural circles we rarely feel the need to explain more. It’s a name that many don’t know but there are many who hold high in the highest regard.

Ninety nine years ago, Norman Borlaug was born into a farm family in Cresco, Iowa which is in the northeast part of the state. His family grew a variety of crops and livestock and he always credited his farm background with his work ethic. He studied forestry and plant pathology doing work in a number of spots including the US Forest Service before finding his spot in the world where he could really make the difference that would propel him to the world stage.

He is credited with major accomplishments and the basic bio of Borlaug says:

In 1944, Dr. Borlaug participated in the Rockefeller Foundation’s pioneering technical assistance program in Mexico, where he was a research scientist in charge of wheat improvement. For the next sixteen years, he worked to solve a series of wheat production problems that were limiting wheat cultivation in Mexico and to help train a whole generation of young Mexican scientists.

The work in Mexico not only had a profound impact on Dr. Borlaug’s life and philosophy of agriculture research and development, but also on agricultural production, first in Mexico and later in many parts of the world.

It was on the research stations and farmers’ fields of Mexico that Dr. Borlaug developed successive generations of wheat varieties with broad and stable disease resistance, broad adaptation to growing conditions across many degrees of latitude, and with exceedingly high yield potential.

These new wheat varieties and improved crop management practices transformed agricultural production in Mexico during the 1940’s and 1950’s and later in Asia and Latin America, sparking what today is known as the “Green Revolution.” Because of his achievements to prevent hunger, famine and misery around the world, it is said that Dr. Borlaug has “saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived.”

Those things are all reasons Dr. Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. Its also why Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller is pumped when playing a card game about the greatest person who has ever lived holds with one card. He did great things for parts of the world that wanted to find a way to feed their people…. now that is awesome!


A to Z Agriculture blog post seriesC is for….

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the day for the letter “C” so what do you think the word of the day should be?

See the other posts in this series by clicking on the logo at right and reviewing the letters, or by browsing the A to Z ag tag archives. You should also feel free to add ideas for upcoming letters!

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About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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15 Responses to B is for Borlaug — an A to Z Series about Agriculture

  1. Jordan Simonson April 2, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    Just throwing this out there because I know you love photography, but I have seen recently where people have begun a picture alphabet surrounding a certain subject. Just thought you would be interested in doing one for agriculture.

    • Janice Person April 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      hmmmm…. that will take some planning and all but could be fun for sure… Going to get my head around it but may be a while.

  2. kassiah April 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    I love Bees, but I’m glad you did your topic on Borlaug today, because I knew nothing! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Janice Person April 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

      Thank you! I wasn’t sure how many people would know him so I went out on a limb. Glad it didn’t break underneath me!

  3. bocafrau April 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    That was a very interesting read. Always nice to learn something new. 🙂

  4. Lisa April 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    Wow! This is a topic I knew nothing about, but now I do. If this ever comes up on Jeopardy, I will be forever in your debt. I love that your posts are so specific, and so full of knowledge.

  5. raybowman August 29, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    Borlaug was an amazing man who lived to serve. Lots of folks haven’t heard of him. He’d probably be OK with that. Thanks, JP.

    • Janice Person August 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

      He certainly wasn’t in it for the cult of personality. Making a difference is far more important than making a name for yourself.


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