Forty years ago, Vijaya Raghavan came to Canada to pursue his studies in agricultural engineering. His homeland of India was already two years into its “Green Revolution” (1967-1978), its solution to preventing another food shortage like the one that killed four million people in eastern India in 1943. This period saw the expansion of farming areas, the introduction to the practice of double cropping (growing two or more crops in a single space during a single growing season) and an influx of seeds with improved genetics.
India’s food production boomed. But Raghavan noticed a disturbing trend: As food production increased, so did the amount of food wasted during harvest. He decided to dedicate his research career to remedying this problem in his homeland, but quickly discovered that his work had great international significance. From the germination of an idea in his small McGill office, Raghavan grew a seed into a thriving vine of valuable knowledge that has reached developing countries crippled by poor-to-zero post-harvest knowledge. His work has taken him to fields not only in India, but in China, Malaysia, Thailand, Brazil, Costa Rica and several African nations. His impact has been enormous, as he witnessed firsthand during a recent trip back to India. As he travelled from one village to the next, he heard over and over again the success stories, new ideas and most of all the happiness in people’s voices. They can now send their children to school with full bellies, and can see a future that is bright.