Articles tagged as: Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture
He was one of the most influential Americans in history and yet many Americans have never heard of him. At Texas A&M University and in developing nations around the world, however, the name Norman Borlaug is forever linked to a revolutionary humanitarian effort that is said to have saved a billion lives.
“The first essential component of social justice is adequate food for all mankind,” said Norman Borlaug during his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. In 1977, he was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 2006, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, just a few in a long line of honors bestowed upon Borlaug, known as the “father of the Green Revolution,” and who held the title of Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture at Texas A&M from 1984 until his death in 2009.
He won the Nobel as a result of his work in developing high-yielding wheat varieties and saving millions from food shortages that threatened India and Pakistan in the 1960s. His work nearly eliminated chronic famine in South Asia and helped food production keep up with the demands of growing populations worldwide.
Today his legacy lives on at the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M, the global outreach unit of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Julie Borlaug, the granddaughter of Norman Borlaug and a former Texas A&M student, Class of ’97, serves as the associate director for external relations for the Borlaug Institute.
“My grandfather was a very grounded and practical person,” she recalls. “He believed that education was the most powerful tool you could provide a person to better their lives. He was one of the most determined and at the same time stubborn people I have ever known, but it was these qualities that helped him succeed when much of the public believed countries like India and Pakistan would face mass starvation in the 1960s and ‘70s.”
Julie Borlaug says her grandfather believed science was the key to feeding the developing world, including the use of “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs) ― crops created for human and animal consumption that have been modified in the laboratory to enhance certain traits such as pest and disease resistance, nutrition and drought tolerance.
“He believed that we must employ every ‘tool in the box’ to feed the world, from high-yielding varieties to GMOs to inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides and even organics when possible,” she contends. “He truly believed that we must continue to further the advancement of agriculture research in order to avert a future global food crisis.”
Former Texas A&M student Joseph King is currently the Borlaug Institute’s regional director for Sub-Saharan Africa and has previously served as the institute’s associate director, chief of staff and international business manager.
“Norman Borlaug’s singularity is that he showed us the power of science to advance humanity, not just the human civilization,” notes King. “Before Borlaug, the collective human conscious was a slave of nature and science ― fatalists to our circumstance. Civilization advanced with each new scientific discovery. After Borlaug, we realized that we are part of science and our existence is dependent on our creativity and stewardship of scientific inquiry.”
King says the institute has taken on Norman Borlaug’s unfinished mission to provide global food security and has seen success on a number of fronts. The group has assisted coffee farmers in Africa with a research program that drives innovation in the coffee sector and has directly improved the livelihoods of the farmers, he points out.
He says the institute has also been one of a very few organizations to work in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 10 years. “In the midst of war, there is poverty, hunger and a lack of hope,” he explains. “Texas A&M has a proud military tradition and we’ve been honored to work alongside our military and government to bring peace and stability to these regions of the world. Agriculture is a powerful tool for peace because of its diffuse connection throughout rural societies.”
The involvement of students in the institute’s mission is critical to its success, says King, and the group affords a variety of opportunities for students to contribute. “The Borlaug Institute has had internships in places like Indonesia, Rwanda and Guatemala,” he notes. “The institute and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences host the Peace Corps Masters International program at Texas A&M combining graduate study with Peace Corps service. And the institute is a supporter of Study Abroad initiatives to give students a greater context about the world and the challenges facing our global society.”
Julie Borlaug agrees that the youth of today are instrumental in the global fight against hunger. “My grandfather always believed that ‘fear was the greatest obstacle to change’ and that as we get older, we are less willing to be innovative and take chances,” she explains. “The Green Revolution was successful due to the young scientist and farmers that my grandfather trained who were willing to utilize different techniques to improve yields.”
She says she hopes the younger generation will realize “that agriculture is the driving force of life. If you care about the environment and the health and well-being of children in developing countries and even in our own ― that starts with agriculture and food systems. If you care about conflict and unstable regions of the world, agriculture plays a lead role.”
Norman Borlaug believed that young people are more optimistic and thus willing to work hard, even against insurmountable odds, his granddaughter states. She contends that as time goes on and populations continue to grow, the stakes are ever higher, saying, “We will need to feed nine billion people by 2050 with limited resources, such as land and water, while also protecting the environment.”
Julie Borlaug encourages students to help meet this goal by joining the fight against global hunger. “My grandfather called the young scientist and farmers that trained under him ‘hunger fighters,’” she says, “so I offer a challenge to all the students reading this to become the next generation of hunger fighters in whatever capacity they can.”
About 12 Impacts for 2012: 12 Impacts for 2012 is an ongoing series throughout 2012 highlighting the significant contributions of Texas A&M University students, faculty, staff and former students on their community, state, nation and world. To learn more about the series and see additional examples, visit http://12thman.tamu.edu/.
Media contact: Lesley Henton, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-5591
World Coffee Research Receives Five-Year $2.5 Million Grant From Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.
World Coffee Research (WCR) announces that they are the recipient of a five-year, $2.5 million grant from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR), a leader in specialty coffee and coffee makers. WCR is the non-profit, collaborative research and development program of the global coffee industry and is managed by the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture of the Texas A&M University System.
The grant will help support WCR’s mission to sustainably grow the Arabica coffee supply chain and improve coffee farmer livelihoods through collaborative agricultural research and development. World Coffee Research will conduct research projects with partners around the world to protect and improve coffee productivity against the effects of climate change and other threats.
Lindsey Bolger, Senior Director of Coffee for GMCR’s Specialty Coffee business unit, said, “GMCR wants to play an active role in helping to shape the future of the specialty coffee industry— particularly in helping to sustain the supply chain and being ahead of the challenges that loom in the horizon, including climate change.” “Clearly, we have a keen interest in ensuring a continued supply of high quality coffee,” added Bolger. “We would invite any coffee company to join us in support of the World Coffee Research program, especially companies that are concerned with sustaining a supply of high quality coffee.”
For more on the grant, visit here.
A free public exhibit of photography by Howard G. Buffett is now on display at the AgriLife Center on Texas A&M University’s West campus. The exhibit will be on display through April 30.
The exhibit “FRAGILE: The Human Condition” features 24 striking images that are both artistic and educational. Intended to raise awareness of international agricultural development, this exhibit highlights the realities of hunger, poverty and conflict around the world.
Learn more here.
Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, U.S. Representative to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, recently visited the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture’s training center in Guatemala.
For years the Borlaug Institute, part of the Texas A&M University System, has spearheaded multiple agricultural improvement efforts in Guatemala through a U.S Department of Agriculture-funded Food for Progress project which has included the “Agriculture in Guatemala: Technology, Education, and Commercialization,” or AGTEC, program.
Cousin was accompanied by Arnold Chacón, U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala, during her tour through Central America to visit development projects funded by the U. S. Government and to meet with project beneficiaries, many of whom are women or members of women’s cooperatives.
To read more about Ambassador Cousin and the Norman Borlaug Institute, visit here.
Bianca Manago, a Texas A&M University former student, was selected as an alternate for the Marshall Scholarship and a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, two of the most prestigious and highly-coveted academic scholarships available to students in the United States. Manago, a native of Lansing, Kan., graduated from Texas A&M in May 2011 with degrees in sociology and philosophy.
Because of the fierce competition for these scholarships, the preliminary process to be selected as an official university nominee is rigorous, said Texas A&M Honors and Undergraduate Research officials. Student applicants like Manago begin the process in late spring, even though the official deadline for the scholarships is in October. Applicants interview for the scholarships in November, if they are granted an interview.
Manago first applied for the scholarships during her senior year, but was not selected for an interview for either program during her first attempt.
“I started working on the applications in May and did some exercises to find out exactly who I was, what I wanted and why those study opportunities could help me reach those goals,” she said. “And the end results were better, so much more polished. I applied again and was more myself, and the result was much better, as I was asked to be interviewed for both.”
Finalist interviews for the Marshall Scholarship took place in Houston in early November; interviews for the Rhodes Scholarship spanned two days in mid-November and included a luncheon and reception in addition to the 30-minute interview.
“It’s a good experience that makes you answer tough questions and understand how you handle pressure,” Manago said about the interviews. “It’s such a great learning opportunity, since the interviewers ask really insightful questions that make you think about things.”
The best part of the experience, Manago added, was getting to meet so many people, many of whom she is certain will become leaders and innovators in their respective fields of study.
Manago said the learning experiences at Texas A&M were critical in helping her prepare for the intensity of the application process, as well as allowing her to explore the possible research and teaching opportunities in the university setting.
“The great thing about A&M is that we have a big community of people who are super supportive,” she said. “We have unique opportunities that aren’t as explicit at other universities. I was involved with student organizations where I learned leadership skills, and we have such a supportive academic community where professors really care about students and want to work with them and know what they’re doing.”
As a student at the university, Manago cofounded the social and environmental justice groups One Love and One Aggieland; she was also a 2011 recipient of the Brown-Rudder Award, the most prestigious recognition given to a student at the university. She has since gone on to be an advisor for One Aggieland and has developed a special topics course on global social justice leadership.
Manago currently works for the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture as the program coordinator for the Global Coffee Quality Research Initiative, where she is responsible for project development, finances, communication, marketing, social media and research proposal development and management.
However, Manago said the extensive application and interview processes for both scholarships made her realize that her true passion lies in academia. Beginning in January, she will return to the classroom at Texas A&M to start work on a master’s degree in sociology.
“In the long term, I see myself being a professor and leading a community of academics,” she added. “I enjoy the teaching part of the job. You have a very cool, unique opportunity where people give you their time. I’d also like to study things that can be applied to the material world and influence people in their applied areas. Teaching is the end goal of research, and I see them very much intertwined. I’d like to be involved in both.”
Throughout its history, Texas A&M University has produced seven Rhodes Scholars and five Marshall Scholars, the most recent being biochemistry and genetics major Nick Anthis for the Rhodes in 2005 and environmental design major Faye Hays for the Marshall in 2007. In last year’s competition, biochemistry and genetics major Kristin Carter was selected as a finalist for the Marshall Scholarship, and in 2009, biochemistry and genetics major Ella Doerge was selected as a finalist for the Rhodes. Since 2000, 11 Aggies have been selected as finalists for the Marshall Scholarship and four have been selected as finalists for the Rhodes.
About the Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships
The Marshall Scholarship is tenable for two years of graduate study at any university in the United Kingdom; the well-known Rhodes Scholarships are tenable for two to three years of graduate study at Oxford University. Among the most competitive scholarship competitions in the world, only about 4 percent of the nationwide pool of more than 1,000 university-nominated applicants receive either award.
The Marshall Scholarships began in 1953 as a gesture of thanks from the British Government for U.S. assistance in rebuilding Europe after World War II. Former Marshall Scholars include Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman. According to the Marshall Scholarship Foundation, as future leaders, Marshall Scholars are “expected to strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments and their institutions. Marshall Scholars are talented, independent and wide-ranging and their time as Scholars enhances their intellectual and personal growth. Their direct engagement with Britain through its best academic programs contributes to their ultimate personal success.” Only 40 Marshall Scholars are selected each year.
The Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest international fellowships, were initiated after the death of Cecil Rhodes in 1902, and bring outstanding students from many countries around the world to the University of Oxford. The primary qualification for a successful candidate is intellectual distinction, although the selection committees also seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. Through the years, Rhodes Scholars have pursued studies in all of the varied fields available at the University of Oxford, where they are elected for two years of study, with the possibility of renewal for a third year. Notable Rhodes Scholars include former U.S. President Bill Clinton, NBA Hall-of-Fame inductee and Senator Bill Bradley and Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee Kris Kristofferson. Only 32 American Rhodes Scholars are selected each year.