20) Appointment of new ICRISAT Director General

Hyderabad, Telangana, India (27 June 2014) : The Governing Board of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr David Bergvinson as the next Director General of ICRISAT for a five-year term, effective January 01, 2015.  He will replace the current Director General, Dr William Dar who has served the Institute with admiration and distinction since 1999.

Dr Bergvinson is currently with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, USA, as Senior Program Officer, Crop Value Chains and Digital Design for Agriculture Development. He has been with the Foundation since 2007. In this role, he has accelerated the development and delivery of farmer-preferred products and services for staple crops in the developing world through formulating strategies, forging partnerships and applying digital technologies. He currently represents the Foundation on the CGIAR Fund Council.

Dr Bergvinson has a well-articulated passion for smallholder agriculture, and a strong desire to improve the lives of the hundreds of millions of impoverished small farmers and their families living in the semi-arid tropics of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. He regards himself as an agent of change, and he possesses a clear vision for how science and partnerships can come together to accelerate the pace of development in the world's poorest and most disadvantaged agrarian regions.

“Science should not be an end in itself. Science is a means to mitigate poverty, eradicate malnutrition and provide environmentally sustainable solutions to the most pressing challenges faced by the smallholder farmer. ICRISAT can achieve the impossible by forging strong partnerships with the public, private and civil society sectors. I look forward to working closely with all the staff and partners to realize ICRISAT’s vision of a prosperous, food-secure and resilient dryland tropics,” said Dr Bergvinson.

Prior to joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr Bergvinson was a Senior Scientist with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) at its Mexico headquarters for over 12 years. His research background is in crop improvement, plant biochemistry, integrated pest management, and entomology. He is no stranger to ICRISAT, having interacted with the Institute's scientists on projects dealing with grain legumes, village level studies, seed systems, and digital technologies in smallholder agriculture.

Dr Bergvinson is highly committed to the success of ICRISAT. He will lead the Institute's work programme to advance agriculture in the tropical drylands of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa as well as uptake of its five mandate crops critical for the drylands - sorghum, pearl millet, pigeonpea, chickpea and groundnut.

Dr Bergvinson is committed to demand-driven innovation that recognizes the important role of women and youth to enable inclusive market-oriented development.

“Innovation has to be driven by the demands of farmers and markets, and the bigger the challenge, the more innovative ICRISAT can be in its approaches,” he said.

He is further committed to enhancing ICRISAT's agribusiness innovation platform, its climate-smart agriculture focus, soil health and watershed management programs, digital technology to support inclusive market-oriented development, ability to create demand for nutri-cereals and grain legumes. Through South-South collaboration, he will strengthen ICRISAT's footprint and impact in both Asia and Africa.

“Working to alleviate poverty in drylands across Africa and Asia is extremely challenging and I believe the Inclusive Market Oriented Development (IMOD) is an exciting and a very important concept to help the smallholder farmers in Africa and South Asia. Integrating IMOD into ICRISAT’s programs will enable poor farmers to translate surplus production into increased income and opportunities for them to realize their full potential,” said Dr Bergvinson.

Dr Bergvinson obtained his B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Masters of Pest Management from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, and his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Ottawa, Canada. He completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in maize biochemistry and pathology. 

Dr Bergvinson and his wife Mary have two children, Matthew and Amanda. 


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