Noted agriculture scientist and one of the key persons in India’s ‘Green Revolution’, M V Rao, passed away on Tuesday night in Hyderabad. He was 88 and is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters.

In the company of Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug, M S Swaminathan, C Subramanian and many others who ushered in the Green Revolution during the early 1960s, Mangina Venkateswara Rao was involved in testing and identifying the best varieties of wheat from Mexico that were then grown in the country and changed the agriculture scenario forever.

Ironically for MV Rao, the golden jubilee celebrations of the Green Revolution held in New Delhi in November 2015, turned out to be his last big engagement. He was felicitated by Agriculture Minister, Radha Singh, and his 30-minute address to the galaxy of scientists drew wide applause.

However, on his return to Hyderabad, his health suffered a setback. He had to be admitted in a corporate hospital. Being a man of discipline and healthy lifestyle, Rao put up a valiant fight. However, the former Spl. Director General of ICAR and Spl Secretary of the Dept. of Agriculture, Research & Extension breathed his last on Tuesday night.

Born on June 21, 1928, at Perupalem in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, Rao joined the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) in 1956 as an assistant wheat breeder, after completing his master’s degree from Purdue University. He became the coordinator of the All-India Wheat Improvement Project in 1971.

During a long career, Rao rose to the highest posts in agriculture. He was asked by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to head the Technology Mission on Oilseeds (one of the four tech missions) in 1986. Post-retirement he became an Agriculture Expert with the World Bank in 1990. The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister at that time, N Janardhana Reddy, invited him to take over as the Vice-Chancellor of the Acharya NG Ranga Agriculture University (1991-97).

A former Vice-President of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (2000–2003), Rao played an important role on several committees, especially chairing the Committee on the New National Seed Policy. He has served as a member of the board of directors of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and as member of the Wheat Advisory Committee of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

In the last two decades, Rao strived hard to increase awareness about agriculture and scientific temper. He led the AP Akademi of Sciences, was a regular speaker at seminars and focussed on modern technology and improving the environment. He served as a member of the Legislative Council of AP during 2008-14.

A recipient of the Norman Borlaug Award and the Linker's Award, Rao was honoured with the Padma Shri.

M. S. Swaminathan, in his condolence message, said “Rao’s contributions to the food security of our country were truly monumental”.