U of A Honorary Degree for Dr. MS Swaminathan

 

It is a pleasure and an honour to present Dr. MS Swaminathan with the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Alberta.  Known as the father of India’s ‘Green Revolution’, Dr. Swaminathan is one of the world’s truly outstanding scientists and humanitarians.

In the mid-1960s, he broke new ground on biotechnological techniques with wheat seeds, almost doubling India’s wheat production within two years.  Later, he utilized the same techniques to modify rice seeds and found similar extraordinary results.  These remarkable accomplishments saved India from imminent famine. 

Dr. Swaminathan has dedicated himself over the years in his numerous roles as chairman or president of various committees or organizations to help developing countries fight famine, reduce poverty and protect the environment. 

He is not only a pioneer, leading advocate and acknowledged world leader in the field of sustainable food security, but he is also known as a catalyst for scientific and social innovation in the production and distribution of food.  He has worked to ensure women and the poor were empowered with the knowledge, skill and technology to work in agriculture and rural development. 

Dr. Swaminathan has a close connection with the U of A.  In the 1970s, he and Dr. Fred Bentley, a U of A alum and former Dean of Agriculture, worked together to found the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).  IRCISAT is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping developing countries in semi-arid climates apply science to increase crop yields and improve farming systems for small farmers.  Dr. Swaminathan spoke at the U of A’s Bentley Lecture in Sustainable Agriculture, named for Dr. Bentley, this afternoon.

Dr. Swaminathan is a Member of the Parliament of India, a fellow of many world leading scientific academies and one of the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century according to TIME Magazine.  I am very proud that he has accepted the Honorary Degree and warmly welcome him to the U of A family.