The only Filipino to date who has served as head of a global agricultural research institute relinquishes his post after an unprecedented three five-year terms—leaving behind a legacy benefiting millions of farmers in India, Africa and other dry-land countries in the world, including the Philippines.
Dr. William Dollente Dar, 61, from Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur, has transformed International Crops Research Institute for the India-based Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) into one of the best agricultural research institutes in the world in terms of innovative research programs, impact to clienteles and financial health and stability.
Through his strong and transformative leadership and astute governance, Dar has quadrupled the income and investments poured into Icrisat since he took over in 2000, from $21 million to $ 85 million as of 2014.
“We have turned around Icrisat into a financially-stable, and a leading global research institute, receiving several awards particularly from the CGIAR,” said Dar, who served as Philippine Agriculture secretary from July 1998 to May 1999.
CGIAR is a consortium of 15 research institutes in the world that also include the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna.
With the innovative research-for-development (R4D) programs that Dar introduced, the institute continues to attract much-needed R4D investments into the development of modern, climate-smart and sustainable crop cultivars and technologies of its five major commodities (pearl millet, chickpea, cowpea, groundnut and sorghum) that are farmed by millions of smallholder farm families in semi-arid countries.
The top donor of ICRISAT to date is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, contributing about $ 18 million per year, which is allotted to the conduct of ICRISAT’s major R4D initiatives.
Two projects being funded by the foundation are the HOPE project (Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement of Sorghum and Millets) and the Tropical Legumes II (TL-II) project.