Father of India’s Green Revolution and first Chairperson of HLPE-FSN, M. S. Swaminathan, passes away at 98

Dr M. S. Swaminathan

©FAO/Giulio Napolitano


Dr M. S. Swaminathan, a distinguished scientist acclaimed as the architect of India’s Green Revolution, breathed his last today at the age of 98 in Chennai, India. His groundbreaking work in agriculture not only transformed his country’s food security, but also empowered low-income farmers, leaving an indelible mark on India’s agricultural landscape, and guided policymakers all around the world.

Dr Swaminathan, the first chairperson of the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE-FSN) from 2010 to 2013, played a pivotal role in shaping the panel’s mission and vision. His pioneering efforts led to the development of high-yielding varieties of paddy rice, which played a pivotal role in bolstering the agricultural output of India’s struggling farmers. In addition to his scientific achievements, he devised innovative methods to effectively communicate the benefits of these superior grains to farmers. In a remarkable initiative in 1966, he established 2 000 model farms in villages near New Delhi, demonstrating modern farming techniques and sharing valuable insights directly with farmers.

Speaking on the impact of Dr Swaminathan’s work, Bernard Lehmann, the current chairperson of the HLPE-FSN, remarked: “Dr Swaminathan’s tireless dedication to improving agriculture not only boosted yields but also bridged the gap of illiteracy and limited formal education among farmers. His contributions were pivotal in doubling wheat production from 12 million tons to 23 million tons in just four crop seasons, effectively ending India’s reliance on grain imports.” 

“The life of Dr M. S. Swaminathan was undeniably good, long, and profoundly impactful. His dedication to agriculture and food security resonates across the entire world. His legacy is a testament to the power of vision and persistence in shaping a better world for all”, the CFS Chairperson, Gabriel Ferrero y de Loma-Osorio added. 

Dr Swaminathan’s visionary collaboration with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi led to the formulation of enduring agricultural policies that ensured long-term self-sufficiency for the nation. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations to strive for sustainable agricultural practices and food security. 

The passing of M. S. Swaminathan marks the end of an era, but his enduring impact on Indian agriculture and the HLPE-FSN will forever be cherished.

The HLPE-FSN extends its heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of Dr M. S. Swaminathan, a true visionary whose legacy will continue to illuminate the path towards global food security and nutrition.