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Martin Kropff, new CIMMYT Director General, embraces science for impact

June 3, 2015


MartinKropff_DGEL BATAN, Mexico (CIMMYT)Martin Kropff, who takes the helm as director general at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) this week, considers science the vital force that will drive the next wave of change in agricultural innovation.

As CIMMYT’s eighth director general, Kropff will advocate for science for impact by tracking research projects to see how they affect the farmer in the field. This grassroots approach to agricultural innovation builds on the work of Kropff’s predecessors at CIMMYT, particularly former director general, Thomas Lumpkin.

Kropff is a proven leader with strong scientific skills, an international outlook and a remarkable ability to build up and develop institutions. For Kropff, science and research provide the vital core of impact and innovation.

“Agriculture is constantly changing – as are the challenges facing farmers – as they evolve, we must evolve with and ahead of them,” Kropff said. “Our mission at CIMMYT is to work together to shape the future of agricultural research for development and help improve livelihoods, particularly in the developing world.”

“To safeguard food security for the 9 billion people we’re expecting will populate the planet by 2050, we need innovations based on breeding, solid agronomy based on precision farming, systems research and innovations in the value chain,” he added.

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One of his first priorities will be to align CIMMYT, as one of the lead centers of the CGIAR, with the post-2015 development framework in relation to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the U.N. Millennium Development Goals set to expire this year.

A self-professed idealist, Kropff grew up wanting to improve food security for the poorest of the poor and had a keen interest in environmental concerns. Those humanitarian interests ultimately led him to the Philippines where he worked for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) as systems agronomist from 1990 to 1995. At IRRI, he led an international program with National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) and universities in nine Asian countries on systems research and simulation for rice production.

“During that time, I noticed that if you really want to change something, you need to work in the countries where food and nutrition security is at stake,” Kropff said.

Kropff joins CIMMYT from Wageningen University and Research Center (Wageningen UR) in the Netherlands, where he was rector magnificus and vice chairman of the executive board for almost 10 years during which student numbers doubled and the university reached a world ranking as the top university and research center for agricultural and food sciences.
He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and a Ph.D. in agricultural and environmental sciences at Wageningen.

Since 1995, he served successive roles at Wageningen UR, including as director general of the Plant Sciences Group and on the executive board. From 2013 to 2015, he was a member of the board of directors of the CGIAR, the 15-member consortium of international agricultural researchers to which CIMMYT and IRRI belong.



Miriam Shindler
Communications Specialist
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

Genevieve Renard
Head of Communications
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)



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U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

U.N. Millennium Development Goals

Wageningen University and Research Center

Utrecht University

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)