George Varughese - Retirement

Dr. George Varughese

At the end of May, 1999, George Varughese retired from CIMMYT after 31 years of extremely fruitful service. George started out at CIMMYT in 1968 as geneticist assistant in the Wheat Program. He had just completed a stint as post-doctoral fellow at IARI in India. Prior to that, he had received his BSc from Sagar University and then his MS and PhD degrees in cytogenetics and plant breeding, respectively, from IARI.

During his long career in the CIMMYT Wheat Program, George worked both at Headquarters and in Outreach. At Headquarters, George was one of the first breeders to work on triticale. He was a member of the team that identified the first fertile triticale, later named Armadillo. After an initial few years in Mexico, George and his wife Sushila were posted to Tunisia, Algeria, and then to Portugal, where George focused on durum wheat breeding, in addition to being CIMMYT's representative in the region.

In 1984, the Varugheses came back from Portugal to CIMMYT headquarters, where for some years George led the Wheat Program's triticale breeding efforts. Proof of his valuable contributions is that 25 cultivars were released from germ plasm developed while he was in charge of the program. He made considerable advances toward improving both durum wheat and triticale-for example, he helped to overcome the latter crop's grain quality problems. In 1988, he became Associate Director of the Wheat Program, a position he held until 1996. That year, he was assigned to Zimbabwe to lead and coordinate the Maize/Wheat Network in southern Africa.

In June, 1999, the Wheat Program organized a farewell event for George and his wife Sushila at CIMMYT Headquarters in Mexico. At the farewell luncheon, Dr. N.E. Borlaug congratulated the Varugheses for having done a good job in North Africa under the very difficult circumstances that existed in the region at that time. Finally, Wheat Program Director S. Rajaram expressed the Program's gratitude towards the Varugheses for their valuable contributions to CIMMYT, to the Wheat Program, and to developing world agriculture.

The Varugheses have gone back to India, their native land, where they reside in the state of Kerala. George continues to work on projects that can benefit from his vast experience as a breeder and administrator.