Borlaug took his work to India and Pakistan, bringing new seeds to help feed the worlds’ poor. Between 1965 and 1970, India’s wheat crop went from 12 million to 21 million tons. Soon his ideas and principles were being replicated in China and Africa.

“The greatest thing he did for the field of agronomy was to begin to show people that they had to think about multiple parts of the system,” says Jerry Hatfield, lab director at the USDA – Agricultural Research Service. “If you think about what he did in the Green Revolution, it wasn’t about genetics, and it wasn’t about fertility, and it wasn’t about water. It was about all of those different things together.”

Others credit Borlaug with an ability to get others to work together. He could speak to scientists, politicians, and farmers with the same ease.

So 100 years after he was born, and with the world population continuing to grow, Borlaug’s legacy still resonates. He continues to call us all to action with words he spoke in 1970 at his Nobel Lecture: “I cannot emphasize too strongly the fact that further progress depends on intelligent, integrated, and persistent effort by government leaders, statesmen, tradesmen, scientists, educators, and communication agencies…we can and must make continuous progress.”

Summarized from “Celebrating 100 Years of Dr. Norman Borlaug,” published in the March-April issue of Crop Science Society of America News.