President Aquino congratulates William Dar, during the awarding of outstanding overseas Filipinos in Malacanan. Dar received a Pamana ng Pilipino Award for his 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.
President Benigno S. Aquino III recently honored former agriculture secretary William D. Dar and 32 other overseas Filipino individuals and organizations who have either improved the lives of Filipinos worldwide, supported relief, rehabilitation and development programs in the country, or who have excelled in their field or profession.
A native of Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, 61-year old Dar received from President Aquino a Pamana ng Pilipino 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.”
President Aquino urged the awardees, including world-renown artist Lea Salonga, to “continue your pursuit of excellence, fulfill our individual roles in nation building, and show the world that the excellence of the Filipino knows no bounds,” during ceremonies in Malacañan, spearheaded by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas chaired by Secretary Imelda M. Nicolas, on December 5, 2014.
“It is a humbling experience, and I dedicate the Pamana Award to all Filipino farmers. I look forward to serving them again when I return next year,” said Dar, who concludes an unprecedented 15-year term on December 31, 2014, as director general of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in India. It is among the 15 global research centers under the CGIAR that also includes the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, Laguna.
To date, Dar is the only Filipino who has served as director general of a global agricultural R&D facility. He leaves behind a legacy benefitting millions of farmers in India, Africa, and other dryland countries in the world, including the Philippines.
Dar has transformed ICRISAT into one of the best agricultural research institutes in the world in terms of innovative research programs, impact to clienteles, 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$ 21 million in 2000 to US$ 85 million in 2014.
ICRISAT has also partnered with the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture, through the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), sharing modern sustainable farming technologies and cultivars of sweet sorghum, peanut, chick pea (garbanzos) and pigeon pea (kadyos) to farmers in Cagayan Valley, Ilocos, Southern Luzon, and Southern Mindanao.
When he returns home next year, Dar said he will share his management and technical experience with Filipino farmers to transform barren rainfed and drylands into productive, sustainable and climate-smart farms through Inang Lupa social movement. He said it aims to enhance the country’s food, nutrition and energy security, increase the productivity and incomes of small farmers through soil rejuvenation, sustainable and integrated natural resource management, use of improved cultivars and hybrids, and advocating for relevant policies and reforms in agriculture. (NOR)