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TCI Director Named Chair of ICRISAT Governing Board

Prabhu Pingali with arms crossed in front of a bookcase
TCI Director Prabhu Pingali was named chair of the governing board of ICRISAT.

Prabhu Pingali, director of the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition (TCI), has been named chair of the governing board of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

ICRISAT is an international organization that conducts development-related scientific research focused on reducing hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation in the dryland tropics. It is one of 14 research centers that comprise CGIAR. Formerly known as the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food secure future dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources.

Following his election as chair, Pingali said he looks forward to working with the governing board and senior management during the transition to a One CGIAR—a reformulation of CGIAR’s partnerships, knowledge, assets, and global presence that integrates its member organizations under unified governance.

“It’s an honor to be named chair of the ICRISAT board,” Pingali said. “I have been a longtime admirer of ICRISAT’s research addressing the food security of poor farmers in the tropical drylands of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Its work is ever more important and urgent in the face of rapid climate change and resource degradation in these poorest regions of the world.”

Pingali has served on ICRISAT’s governing board since April 2019. He is a professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, with joint appointments in the Division of Nutritional Sciences and the Department of Global Development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

At TCI, Pingali leads an international team of researchers focused on creating and assessing innovative, food systems-based approaches to reducing poverty and improving nutrition and livelihoods in the developing world. The Institute blends high-quality academic research, field-based projects, and policy analysis to generate and share knowledge relevant to policymakers, research institutions, and development agencies.

“I have been a longtime admirer of ICRISAT’s research addressing the food security of poor farmers in the tropical drylands of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa,” Pingali said. “Its work is ever more important and urgent in the face of rapid climate change and resource degradation in these poorest regions of the world.”

Before joining Cornell as TCI’s founding director, Pingali served as deputy director of the Agricultural Development Division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from 2008-2013. He was director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Agriculture and Development Economics Division from 2002-2007. From 1987-2002, he held senior research and research management positions at two CGIAR centers, first at the International Rice Research Institute and then at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.

Pingali is 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. He has also been a proponent of diversifying diets and has advocated looking beyond the big staples—rice, wheat, and maize. His latest, 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.

Pingali has received 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.