Award-winning scientist Rattan Lal appointed by President Biden as a new member of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development
San Jose, 22 February 2022 (IICA). Scientist Rattan Lal, Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center (C-MASC) of The Ohio State University and Goodwill Ambassador of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) for Sustainable Development Issues, has been appointed by the President of the United States, Joe Biden, as a new member of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD).
This is the latest distinction for Professor Lal, who, together with IICA, has been leading the “Living Soils of the Americas” program since December 2020, with a view to coordinating the joint efforts of countries throughout the hemisphere, international organizations, universities and the private sector to combat soil degradation, a phenomenon that threatens global food security.
In 2020, Lal was also awarded the title of IICA Chair in Soil Science and received the World Food Prize.
In making this designation public, the White House highlighted Lal’s ties to IICA and noted that the scientist “is widely recognized as a pioneer in soil-centric agricultural management to improve food security globally and develop climate-resilient agriculture through soil carbon management and sequestration, sustainable management of soils, and soil health”.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., BIFAD was established in 1975 by the U.S. Congress. Its mission is to advise the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on agricultural and higher education issues related to food insecurity in developing countries. Its members are appointed by the U.S. President, in recognition of their record of academic excellence and their efforts to increase and achieve more sustainable food production worldwide.
Professor Lal described his membership in BIFAD as both an honor and a privilege. He added that the appointment by the U.S. President will provide him with the opportunity to advance his work for the benefit of food and agriculture, as well as to serve rural communities around the world.
“The name of the Board is indicative of its priorities, through four critical words: international, food, agriculture and development, which must be sustainable. These same four words have been the focus of my professional career, which has spanned more than five decades and five continents”, remarked Lal upon being consulted by IICA.
“IICA has the same objectives and priorities, so there is tremendous synergy and common goals”, he added.
The scientist, who was a co-laureate of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), also highlighted the importance of the appointment coming shortly after the UN Food Systems Summit 2021 and the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26).
Those two decisive meetings paved the way for the international community to advance towards transforming agrifood systems, in order to contribute, on the one hand, to the fight against hunger and malnutrition, and, on the other hand, to climate change mitigation.
“For me, this appointment affords a valuable opportunity to collaborate in positioning agriculture as a solution to improve the environment”, stated Lal.
“It also provides me with an opportunity to collaborate with farmers, particularly small-scale farmers. Throughout my career, helping farmers has been my mission. And being a partner of IICA is a privilege because they have the same mission. I feel blessed”, he concluded.
IICA Director General Manuel Otero congratulated Rattan Lal and highlighted the importance of the appointment. “We believe he is the right person, coming on board at the right time. Professor Lal continues to carry out terrific work alongside organizations and individuals with the best skills and practices to foster better food, better agriculture, a healthy environment and a more equitable society”, he indicated.
Institutional Communication Division.