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    Dr Sanjaya Rajaram

    Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram is an Indian-born Mexican scientist and winner of the 2014 World Food Prize.[1] He was awarded this prize for his scientific research in developing 480 wheat varieties that have been released in 51 countries. This innovation has led to an increase in world wheat production – by more than 200 million tons – building upon the successes of the Green Revolution.[1] The Government of India awarded him the fourth highest civilian honour of Padma Shri in 2001.[2]

    Early life, education and family

    Sanjaya Rajaram was born in 1943 near a small farming village Raipur, District Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. His family, including his parents, an older brother and a younger sister, made a meagre living on their five-hectare farm growing wheat, rice and maize. Unlike most children in his socioeconomic position, he was encouraged to pursue an education by his parents, and graduated from secondary school as the top-ranked student in the entire Varanasi District.[3]

    Rajaram went on to earn a B.Sc. in agriculture from the University of Gorakhpur, a M.Sc. in genetics and plant breeding from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi and a Ph.D. in plant breeding from the University of Sydney. While at the IARI in 1964, he studied genetics and plant breeding under Prof. M.S. Swaminathan.[3]

    Career

    In 1969 Rajaram began working in Mexico as a wheat breeder at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). He worked alongside scientist Norman Borlaug, in experimental wheat fields in El Batan (Texcoco), and in the Mexican cities of Toluca and Ciudad Obregon, Sonora. In 1972, he became the director of CIMMYT at the age of 29[3].

    After 33 years at CIMMYT, including seven as Director of the Global Wheat Program, Rajaram joined the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) as Director of Integrated Gene Management before formally retiring in 2008. During his distinguished career, Rajaram's work resulted in the release of more than 480 varieties of bread wheat in 51 countries, which are grown on more than 58 million hectares worldwide.[3]

    Rajaram, an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences,[4] is also the owner and director of Resource Seed Mexicana, a small private company specializing in wheat development and promotion.[5]