Dr. William Dollente Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in Patancheru, Hyberabad in Andhra Pradesh, India will be this year’s Commencement Speaker for the Western Mindanao State University’s 69th Commencement Exercises.
For 14 years, Dr. Dar has served as the General Director of the non-profit, non-political and pro-poor institute that is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Consortium.
Dr. Dar holds the distinction of being the first Filipino and Asian to be Director General of ICRISAT. With his outstanding leadership as Chair of the Alliance Executive (2005), the Alliance of Centers was made the third pillar of the CGIAR system. He was Chair of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) from 2007 to 2009. Furthermore, Dr. Dar was also Member of the UN Millennium Task Force on Hunger.
Prior to joining ICRISAT, he served as Presidential Adviser for Rural Development, and Secretary of Agriculture in the Philippines (equivalent to Minister of Agriculture), the first ever alumnus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) to become one. Before this, he was Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) and Director of the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Philippines-Department of Agriculture (DA).
Serving for the governing boards of the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the CGIAR’s International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) as well as of ICRISAT, he was also Chair of the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) and the Coarse Grains, Pulses Research and Training (CGPRT) Center based in Indonesia.
Dr. Dar received a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Horticulture from the University of the Philippines Los Baños and an MS (Agronomy) and BS in Agricultural Education from Benguet State University (BSU) in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines. He taught at BSU for 11 years and rose from the ranks to become a full Professor and Vice President for Research and Extension.
He has been the recipient of several honorary doctorates – Doctor of Technology from Tarlac College of Agriculture (TCA) and Doctor of Technology Management from Bohol Island State University (BISU) in 2012; Doctor of Humanities from Pampanga Agricultural College (PAC) and Doctor of Science (Rural Development) from University of Southern Mindanao (USM), Philippines (2011); Doctor in International Agricultural Development from Central Mindanao University (2010); Doctor of Technology from Isabela State University (ISU) (2008); Doctor of Resource Management from Benguet State University (2007); and Doctor of Science from Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), Philippines (2003).
He has received a number of awards and honors, including the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines, Outstanding Young Scientist of the Year, Crop Science Society of the Philippines’ Achievement Award for Research Management and Outstanding Science Administrator given by the Philippines Department of Science and Technology. He was also awarded as Distinguished Alumnus of UPLB and the Most Outstanding Alumnus of BSU and the Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College (ISPSC). In 2002, PCARRD honored him with its highest and most prestigious award, the Symbol of Excellence in R&D Management.
In 2003, the Vietnamese Government honored him with the “For the Sake of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam Award” while the Philippine Bureau of Agricultural Research awarded him with a Plaque of Recognition for his outstanding performance as its First Director. He is also the recipient of the “Anahaw Leaf Award” for being the Most Outstanding Alumnus of the Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College (ISPSC) High School Class of ‘69.
In 2004, the Central Luzon State University in the Philippines awarded him the Golden Grain Award, commending him for his “deep concern and intense advocacy for the promotion of a global yet equitable program for food security and reduction of poverty through pioneering scientific and technological innovations”.
In the same year (2004), he was given the Research Leadership Excellence Award, the most prestigious award of the Philippine Association of Research Managers (PhilARM). In 2005, he was given a plaque of recognition by the Philippine Department of Agriculture for his outstanding contributions when he was Secretary of Agriculture. In 2006, he was awarded the “KALSA: The Most Distinguished Alumnus Award” by the Benguet State University in recognition of his being the first Filipino and Asian to serve ICRISAT and for the heights he has reached in the management of research and agricultural resources, through Science with a Human face.
The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) of the Philippine Government awarded him the 2007 Outstanding Professional of the Year Award in the field of Agriculture for displaying professional excellence in both private and public practice in the Philippines and abroad and for his noble advocacy of promoting a global yet equitable program of food security in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
In February 2009, he was conferred the Father Jose Burgos Award, Ilocos Sur’s most prestigious award, for his outstanding achievement in the field of agriculture. In recognition of his excellent and outstanding contribution to pulses research and development, he was recently honored with the Indian Society of Pulses Research and Development (ISPRD) Lifetime Achievement Award. In October 2009, the University of the Philippines Los Baños honored him with the Outstanding Alumnus Award. In November 2010, he was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award by the PCARRD Scholars Association, lnc, (PSAl). In October 2011, he was conferred the 2011 Agriculture Administrator Award by the Philippine Agri-vironment Educators and Entrepreneurs Inc (PASSAGE).
In August 2012, Dr. Dar received the BAR Legacy Plaque of Appreciation for his invaluable contributions as the first Director of Philippine’s Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), setting its directions and bearing as the research and development (R&D) arm of the Department of Agriculture (DA). In April 2013, he was awarded a Certificate of Recognition as a Distinguished Alumnus by the Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State Colleges (ISPSC) Federated Alumni Association.
In June 2013, Dr. Dar received the prestigious MS Swaminathan Award for Leadership in Agriculture for the year 2013, instituted by the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS).
In the same year—on November 2013, he was conferred with the prestigious “Excellence in Agricultural Leadership Award” by the Association of Agricultural Technology in Southeast Asia (AATSEA).
Since leading ICRISAT, Dr. Dar has intensively advocated a Grey to Green Revolution in the dry tropics of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa through Science with a Human Face. In pursuing the Institute’s mission, he has strengthened strategic partnerships with an array of stakeholders – NARS, ARIs, NGOs, development agencies and the private sector. These initiatives led to a stronger ICRISAT working for a food-secure SAT.
In April 2010, ICRISAT led by Dr. Dar won the CGIAR’s Science Award for Outstanding Partnership together with the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), for improving the lives of women and children in West Africa. In 2008, it had won for the fifth time the King Baudouin Award (the most prestigious in the CGIAR) along with eight other Centers. This was made possible through its involvement in the Collaborative Research Program for Sustainable Agricultural Production in Central Asia and Caucasus. Earlier in 2004, it had won the award together with CIMMYT, IRRI, IWMI and other national systems in the CIMMYT-led Rice-Wheat Consortium for the Indo-Gangetic Plains. In 2002, the Institute together with ICARDA had bagged the award for developing new chickpea varieties with higher tolerance to drought and heat, greater resistance to pests and diseases that provide stable and profitable yields. ICRISAT is the only CGIAR Center to have bagged this award five times.
Dr. Dar’s astute and decisive leadership was repeatedly manifest in the Institute’s surplus budgets in the year 2000 and from 2003 to 2009. In 2009, a very positive Sixth External Program and Management Review (EPMR) pronounced that “ICRISAT today is a thriving research institute with a unique capacity to address poverty alleviation, food security, and natural resource protection in the semi-arid tropics”.
There were more research outputs and impacts created by the Institute during the last ten years as well, both in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The turnaround for the Institute was possible because of Dr. Dar’s effective and human-oriented management, big-picture decisions and innovations and the positive attitude and high morale he infused in the staff. He led the Institute in mapping out a new Strategic Plan to 2020, a road map to empowering the poor in the drylands.
As a demonstration of the strong faith in his outstanding leadership, the Governing Board awarded Dr. Dar a third five-year term in office, starting 2010.
Dar’s transformational leadership has turned ICRISAT into a forward looking institution, which has been ranked ‘Outstanding’ consecutively in 2006 and 2007 among the CGIAR centers. A man on a mission and a champion of the poor, Dr. Dar has made a big difference and continues with conviction his mission of helping alleviate the conditions of the poor people living in the drylands of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.