23) ICRISAT DG gets Second Term (14 May 2004)

Dr William D Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), has been given a new five-year term of office starting 1 January 2005. The decision was made at the 50th meeting of the ICRISAT Governing Board, held at ICRISAT headquarters in Patancheru, near Hyderabad, India, which ended on 29 April.

That Dr Dar has been asked to lead the institute for another term comes as no big surprise. Staff and stakeholders of the Institute learned early on that the growing success of ICRISAT hinged on relevant research programs and decisive measures initiated by Dar.  By the time he took office in January 2000, ICRISAT, the prestigious international institute of the 1970s and 80s had unfortunately been forced into a financial slump, staff morale was at its lowest, and worse, the research objectives had become unfocussed and weak. Four years later, ICRISAT has turned over a completely new leaf and is once more the leading center of scientific excellence for agricultural research in the dry tropics of the world, thanks to the outstanding efforts of the management under the able and sagacious leadership of Director General Dar.

We recount in brief the highlights of ICRISAT's metamorphosis:

  • ICRISAT has re-focused its research agenda on a need-driven and participatory basis, and is exploiting the most modern tools of biotechnology, marker assisted breeding, integrated pest and disease management, natural resource management, and information and communication technology to that end.
  • Staff morale has been greatly and continuously boosted by the “Team ICRISAT” movement launched by the Director General in early 2002.
  • Since the year 2000 ICRISAT has been the recipient of no less that 46 awards, reflecting the excellence and relevance of research executed by its internationally recognized scientists. This, besides the 9 awards that have been personally awarded to Dr Dar by renowned institutions and universities in this period.
  • Representatives of the institute and its individual staff members, are asked to serve on several advisory boards and expert panels of both national and international repute.
  • An excellent relationship with the host country, India, has been established.
  • Partnerships with the NARS and regional/sub-regional organizations, have been strengthened and are leading to more impacts in the farming communities of the SAT.
  • ICRISAT is attracting more and more partners from the private sector – partnerships that are mutually beneficial to the parties involved, and to the community in general.
  • ICRISAT went through rigorous External Program and Management Reviews in 2003 and passed with flying colors.
  • After years of finger-biting tension regarding a financial crunch, ICRISAT came through the last financial year with half a illion dollars surplus budget.
  • Donors are once again putting their trust (and their money) in ICRISAT, confidently recognizing that ICRISAT is sincerely performing Science with a Human Face, a mantra started by Dar in 2000 to infuse a sense of purpose, mission, and responsibility towards the poor of the semi-arid tropics whom ICRISAT serves.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.