Before Dr. Norman Borlaug passed away, he told his granddaughter his biggest regret - not being able to bring the Green Revolution to Africa. Borlaug, who passed away in 2009, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and the Nobel Peace Prize for his adaptation of new wheat technologies and improved crop management practices in Mexico, India and Pakistan that went on to save more than a billion people worldwide from starvation. Today his granddaughter Julie Borlaug Larson hopes to bring the Green Revolution to Africa as she continues his legacy, encouraging industry members to take their innovations to the farmers and their message to the public.
As Borlaug Larson told the audience during the Africa Session at Alltech’s 30th International Symposium, the Green Revolution did not happen because of one man but an entire army of “hunger fighters.” She encourages the private sector to join together to invest in education and training for the young people of Africa, provide infrastructure and focus, and engage the policy leaders in each country. Sometimes it’s as simple as providing a cell phone or a bike.
One of Borlaug Larson’s projects Spread Rwanda, a USAID-funded development alliance of institutes, industries and NGOs, established a more effective transportation system for the Rwandan coffee industry through the donation of 1,000 plus coffee cargo bikes. This simple logistical change helps farmers get larger payloads to washing stations more quickly, improve product quality and ensure farmers receive optimal payment for harvest. More importantly, the bikes allow the Rwandan coffee industry to develop a premium product in the international coffee market.
“You don’t have to be just from the agricultural sector to provide technology that will change their lives,” Borlaug Larson said.