Former leader in rice crop development dies at age 91

by Teresa Acklin
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   MOUNT DORA, FLORIDA, U.S. — Robert Flint Chandler Jr., a former agronomist with the Rockefeller Foundation who spearheaded development of new rice varieties and farming methods as a means to counter world hunger, died March 23 at a hospital near his home in Mount Dora. He was 91.

   Dr. Chandler joined the foundation in 1954 and was part of what became known as the “Green Revolution,” an effort to develop better grain and vegetable varieties and farming practices for impoverished countries.

   He was sent to the Philippines to direct the breeding of higher-yielding rice, similar to what plant breeder Norman Borlaug did with wheat in Mexico. Dr. Borlaug also was part of the Rockefeller Foundation and later won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

   As founding director of the Rockefeller Foundation-sponsored International Rice Research Institute in Manila from 1959 to 1972, Dr. Chandler oversaw development of more than 25 rice varieties, plus cultivation techniques that would increase yield or allow growth in more areas. He then went to Taiwan, where he headed the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center until 1975.

   In later years, Dr. Chandler was a consultant and wrote numerous articles and two books. He was awarded the World Food Prize in 1988 and the Presidential End Hunger Award in 1986.