SOUTH AMERICA – The board of trustees of the International Potato Centre (CIP) together with CGIAR leadership has appointed Dr Simon Heck as the director general of CIP and senior director of CGIAR effective 1st march 2023.

Dr Simon Heck is a globally renowned leader of successful international multi-stakeholder research-for-development programs focused on improving food and nutrition security, breeding climate-smart crops, and fostering inclusive value chains.

Prior to the appointment, Dr Heck was the director of the Sweet potato Agri-food System Program at CIP and the lead of the CGIAR Initiative on Resilient Cities.

As an anthropologist by training, Dr Heck first joined CIP in 2012 as Deputy Manager for the Sweet potato in Africa Program where he led the UK-funded Scaling-Up Sweet potato through Agriculture and Nutrition (SUSTAIN) project.

This project saw to a partnership between the government and non-profit organizations to help more than two million people in six African countries improve their food production and diet diversity.

Dr Heck also previously worked with WorldFish, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the UK’s Department for International Development.

With a PhD in anthropology from Boston University, Dr Simon has more than 30 years of experience in agricultural, social and policy research with the CGIAR, IUCN, DFID, and Boston University.

He said, “It is an honor to be named Director General of CIP, whose collaboration with national partners has enabled millions of farmers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to improve their income and support their families’ well-being with potato and sweetpotato.

I’m excited to take on this leadership role within CGIAR, the world’s largest research-for-development organization, and to collaborate with people across and beyond CGIAR to develop solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.”

He will be taking over from Dr Ortiz who was the interim director general. Dr Ortiz will then proceed with his other current role, CGIAR Senior Director, Crop-based Systems.

Dr Heck will be tasked with the responsibility of expanding CIP’s proven track record of leadership in high-impact research in genetic innovation, and on delivery models along the commodity supply chain from farm to fork.

The role will involve supporting excellence in breeding in national crop improvement programs and strengthening the climate resilience of key agri-food production systems.

He will also be expected to promote market innovations to improve incomes, jobs, and access to healthy diets for marginalized rural and urban communities.

The doctor will also be a member of CGIAR’s senior leadership team while serving as a senior director on the board.

Dr Claudia Sadoff, CGIAR’s Executive Managing Director said, “Dr Heck’s appointment, as with other recent CGIAR leadership appointments, supports our focus on developing and scaling innovations that improve lives and livelihoods across the global South.

His abilities as a researcher and manager dedicated to science that benefits people and the planet will be a valuable addition to our leadership team as we work to increase the visibility and impact of CGIAR and our Centers.”

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