Father of India's green revolution now an honorary alum
The 750-seat Myer Horowitz Theatre was bursting at the seams as Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan received an honorary doctorate and delivered the combined Bentley Lecture in Sustainable Agriculture/Lester Pearson Memorial Lecture last October.
Known as the father of the green revolution in India, Swaminathan developed a new wheat plant in the 1960s that yielded significantly more grain than traditional types. In fact, the first harvest with the new seeds was three times greater than the previous year’s. Indeed, between 1964 and 1968, Indian farmers achieved as much progress in wheat production as they had during the preceding 4,000 years. The discovery and its application forever changed India’s history.
“His contributions have been in the areas of science, in plant breeding and genetics, followed by taking that science to the level of the farmer and being concerned about gender equity and about the poorest of the poor—that’s what I think makes him stand out,” said Nat Kav, associate dean of the U of A’s Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences. “In this day and age, with climate change and everything else looming and threatening our food security, he has always advocated for sustainable agriculture and what he calls an ‘evergreen revolution,’ which is not just sustainable today, but for generations beyond.”