Sanjaya Rajaram
Born1943 (1943)
Died17 February 2021(2021-02-17) (aged 77–78)
Alma mater
Known forDeveloping 480 types of wheat
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorDr. Irvine Watson

Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram (1943 – 17 February 2021) was an Indian-born Mexican scientist and winner of the 2014 World Food Prize.[1][2] 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 India's fourth- and third-highest civilian awards Padma Shri (2001)[3] and Padma Bhushan (2022).[4]

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.[5]

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.[5]


In 1969, Rajaram began working in Mexico as a wheat breeder at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). He was recruited by and worked alongside scientists Norman Borlaug and his deputy, Canadian Glenn Anderson, 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.[5][6]

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.[5]

Rajaram, an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences,[7] was also the owner and director of Resource Seed Mexicana, a small private company specializing in wheat development and promotion.[8]

Rajaram died from COVID-19 on 17 February 2021, in Ciudad Obregon, Mexico.[9]

Awards and recognition

In 2022, Sanjay Rajaram received Padma Bhushan from Government of India which is the third Highest civilian award[4][10]

Authored works


  1. ^ a b "2014 World Food Prize". Archived from the original on 1 July 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  2. ^ World Food Prize
  3. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Padma Awards 2022: Complete list of recipients". mint. 26 January 2022. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d Shindler, Miriam (26 June 2014). "Former CIMMYT Global Wheat Program Director Wins 2014 World Food Prize". CIMMYT. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  6. ^ Mollins, Julie (30 October 2014). "Food security successes earn Sanjaya Rajaram World Food Prize". Thomson Reuters Foundation News.
  7. ^ "NAAS Fellow". National Academy of Agricultural Sciences. 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Feeding the World: Profile of a World Food Prize Winner". American Society of Agronomy. Archived from the original on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  9. ^ Trethowan, Richard (3 March 2021). "Scientist boosted global wheat yield with disease-resistant varieties". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  10. ^ Service, Tribune News. "10 foreigners among Padma awardees". Tribuneindia News Service. Retrieved 26 January 2022.