Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III recently honoured Dr William D. Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) headquartered in Hyderabad, and 32 other overseas Filipino individuals and organizations who have either improved the lives of Filipinos worldwide, supported development programs in the country, or excelled in their field or profession.
A Philippine national, Dr Dar received a Pamana ng Pilipino (Legacy) Award and was cited for “his exemplary leadership in successfully extending the frontiers of science and technology to ensure food security for all, and for his staunch advocacy of the important role of professional horticulturists in this endeavor.”
“It is a humbling experience, and I dedicate the award to all Filipino farmers. I look forward to serving them again when I return to the Philippines next year,” said Dr Dar, who concludes an unprecedented 15-year term on December 31, 2014, as ICRISAT Director General.
To date, Dr Dar is the only Filipino who has served as head of a global agricultural research institute. ICRISAT is one of the 15 research centers who are members of the CGIAR Consortium, a global agricultural research partnership for a food secure future. He leaves behind a legacy benefitting millions of farmers in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and other dryland countries in the world, including the Philippines.
Dr Dar has transformed ICRISAT into one of the best agricultural research institutes in the world in terms of innovative research programs, impact to smallholder farmers, and financial stability. Through his strong leadership and governance, he has quadrupled the income and investments poured into ICRISAT since he took over, from US$22 million in 2000 to US$85 million in 2014.
ICRISAT has been partnering with the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture, through the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), in sharing modern sustainable farming technologies and cultivars of sorghum, peanut, chickpea and pigeonpea to farmers in the country.
ICRISAT’s Bhoochetana (land rejuvenation) approach is now being adopted in three pilot regions in the Philippines covering 30,000 ha, with the goal to enhance the food, nutrition and energy security and improve the livelihoods of resource poor farmers in the country’s rainfed areas through sustainable and integrated natural resource management.