CIAT is pleased to welcome Dr. Debisi Araba as Regional Director for Africa. With extensive experience in agricultural policy and project implementation, he will work with the team to establish a vision and strategy for CIAT’s pan-Africa research programs, building on strong partnerships to deliver innovative science.
“I am proud and honored to be a member of the CIAT family, and to work with our regional partners towards an eco-efficient future in Africa. I come into this wonderful team – and the wider CGIAR community – with an open mind and enthusiasm for progress,” he said.
“I am a strong believer that innovation in agriculture, and in our food systems, should be driven not only by profit, but also by sustainability. Together, we can ensure that every farmer and agribusiness – small and large – can maximize profits, while transforming systems to withstand shocks and stresses in the light of mounting challenges, including climate change.
Building on strong partnerships
With experience as a senior manager in the African Policy Engagement group to the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Program (CCAFS), a PhD. in Waste Management from Imperial College London and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, he brings much insight to this role.
By leveraging CIAT’s global expertise, Dr. Araba said he intends to position CIAT as a global leader in agricultural data analytics, pioneering the importance of technology to transform climate services for the agriculture sector, for example. He also emphasized the importance of continuing to strengthen partnerships.
“In just over three decades, CIAT has built a solid reputation for creating broad-based partnerships with multiple stakeholders,” he said, noting as an example the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) – a partnership of over 300 members, operating in more than 30 countries – led and facilitated by CIAT.
“These partnerships demonstrate the depth and breadth of our strengths in Africa. I believe that if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others. I intend to work with the team to build on these networks, creating new partnerships, incorporating the public and private sectors to achieve our vision of a sustainable future.”
That vision entails creating a formidable coalition, focused on reducing hunger, malnutrition, poverty and improving natural resources and ecosystem services towards making farming more competitive, profitable, and resilient, he said.
Dr. Araba will pioneer CIAT’s portfolio in Africa focused on four key areas, including climate-smart agriculture, building ecosystems action, sustainable food systems, and analyzing big data.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity in agriculture to make more informed decisions based on data and CIAT will leverage these technologies to advance our support for improved soil management, food and feed crops,” he noted.
“It’s my firm belief that information about agriculture should be a public good. African countries should have the necessary support for open and free access to agricultural information to make informed decisions and catalyze development.
“The globally recognized standard of our scientific output is a direct reflection of the quality and commitment of our workforce,” he continued. “I will work with the entire team to ensure CIAT is a desired place to work, and to create an environment where we can jointly achieve our vision of a sustainable future in Africa.”
CIAT’s Director-General, Dr. Ruben Echeverría, said: “We are delighted to welcome Debisi to the CIAT-Africa team. Our work in Africa continues to go from strength-to-strength. We look forward to working with him to demonstrate the power of our research to sustainably transform agriculture and improve livelihoods in the region.”
Dr. Echeverría also thanked Dr. Robin Buruchara, CIAT’s outgoing Regional Director for Africa, who will now take the lead as Director for PABRA, based at CIAT’s offices in Nairobi.