Prof Prabhu Pingali, Founding Director, Tata-Cornell Institute, took charge as ICRISAT Governing Board Chair. Prof Pingali joined the Board in April 2019 and assumed the office of the Chair from Dr Paco Sereme during the recently concluded 95th Board meeting.
At Cornell University, Prof Pingali holds joint appointments as Professor in Charles H Dyson School of Applied of Economics and Management, Professor in the Department of Global Development and Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
An economist by training and study, Prof Pingali’s expertise in agricultural research management saw him lead the Agricultural Development Division of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as Deputy Director between 2008 and 2013. Before that, he was Director of FAO’s Agricultural and Development Economics Division between 2002 and 2007. Prof Pingali has held senior research and research management positions at CGIAR centers IRRI and CIMMYT between 1987 and 2002.
He has been a vocal supporter of smallholder farms from early days of his research career, which included a stint as a researcher at ICRISAT in the 1970s. Many years later in 2011, incidentally at ICRISAT, when asked why we should focus on smallholders, Prof Pingali emphasized that they are more productive per hectare compared to large farms and that smallholder productivity growth is a proven pathway to food security and poverty reduction.
He has also been a proponent of diversifying diets and has advocated looking beyond the big staples – rice, wheat and maize. His latest and widely read book Transforming Food Systems for a Rising India presents a detailed vision for achieving nutrition security through food system diversity that is accessible and affordable to the poor.
Prof Pingali has been a recipient of many awards and honors including Foreign Fellow of India’s National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, Distinguished Fellow of the American Agricultural Economics Association and an Honorary Life Member of the International Association of Agricultural Economists among several other recognitions.
Following his election as Chair, Prof Pingali said he looks forward to working with ICRISAT Governing Board and management as we transition towards a One CGIAR. ICRISAT looks forward to working with its new Governing Board Chair and wishes him success.