RD Watt Lecture

Image of RD Watt

The annual RD Watt Lecture commemorates the first lecture delivered to University of Sydney agriculture students in March 1911 by Australia’s first Professor of Agriculture, Robert Dickie Watt.

It is a tribute to his strong vision and leadership as the first Dean, as well as to 100 years of world-changing Agriculture at Australia’s first University. Watt developed courses with a strong scientific content which became a characteristic of the Sydney degree.

RD Watt Lecture 2015

Grains going gangbusters: Food security vs the environment

Presented by Dr Sanjaya Rajaram

The agricultural Green Revolution of the 1940s to 1960s led to massive increases in the production of wheat and rice across Asia and subsequently other regions of the world. The revolution in wheat production was initiated in Mexico in the 1960s by Nobel Laureate, Dr Norman Borlaug. The semi-dwarf plant types he developed subsequently spread to south Asia, revolutionising wheat farming.

Initial rates of genetic gain in productivity were staggering. However, even though significant genetic gains were maintained in the later stages of the twentieth century through improved agronomic technologies and the targeted exploitation of genetic resources, the question remains: Can we maintain rates of growth in productivity while maintaining the integrity of our environment?

Dr Sanjaya Rajaram, who led the wheat breeding program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, draws on a long and successful career at the front line of global food security to explore the options for maintaining the supply of one of the world’s most import foods: wheat.

6pm – 8.30pm, Tuesday 22 September 2015
Charles Perkins Centre Auditorium, University of Sydney (map)
Drinks and canapés following lecture
RSVP: Monday 14 September 2015
Registrations essential for venue and catering purposes:

Download a recording of the 2015 lecture

NB: Recording is in MP4 format, 636MB.

Speaker biography:

Dr Rajaram

Dr Sanjaya Rajaram, born in India and a citizen of Mexico, is an eminent plant scientist who was awarded the 2014 World Food Prize for his scientific research that led to a prodigious increase in world wheat production – by more than 200 million tons – building upon the successes of the Green Revolution. He studied for his PhD at the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute on a scholarship provided by the Narrabri Rotary Club. He left Australia in 1968 to take up a research position at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico. His breakthrough breeding technologies have had a far-reaching and significant impact on providing more nutritious food around the globe and alleviating world hunger. Dr Rajaram succeeded Nobel Laureate Dr Norman Borlaug in leading CIMMYT's wheat breeding program, and developed an astounding 480 wheat varieties that have been released in 51 countries on six continents and have been widely adopted by small- and large-scale farmers alike.