Director General – ICRISAT

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is currently seeking a new Director General to succeed the retiring incumbent.

ICRISAT is a non-profit, non-political organization that conducts agricultural research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with a wide array of partners throughout the world. Covering 6.5 million square kilometers of land in 55 countries, the semi- arid or dryland tropics has over 2 billion people and 644 million of these are the poorest of the poor. ICRISAT and its partners help empower these disadvantaged populations to overcome poverty, hunger and a degraded environment through better agricultural production systems.

We seek a visionary leader who is able to build collaborative and highly effective and efficient research, and development teams in developing country environments, and thus unleash ICRISAT’s potential to realize its mission. The ideal candidate will have led change and built private and/or public sector research and development intensive enterprises that thrive in today’s inter-disciplinary and integrated world. The successful candidate will help ICRISAT be recognized as one of the world’s leading conductors of life-changing agricultural research.

ICRISAT is headquartered near Hyderabad, India, with two regional hubs and eight country offices in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a member of the CGIAR Consortium, a global agriculture research partnership whose science is carried out by the 15 Research Centers in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations.

ICRISAT conducts research on its mandate crops of chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut, sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet in the arid and semi-arid tropics. The Institute focuses its work on the drylands and in protecting the environment. Tropical dryland areas are usually seen as resource-poor and perennially beset by shocks such as

drought, thereby trapping dryland communities in poverty and hunger and making them dependent on external aid.

ICRISAT envisions a prosperous, food-secure and resilient dryland tropics. Its mission is to reduce poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation in the dryland tropics. The approach is through partnership-based international agricultural research-for-development that embodies Science with a Human Face.

Aspirational targets and development outcomes

ICRISAT has set four bold targets in the next ten years that will enormously benefit the well-being of the drylands’ poorest people:

  • Help halve rural poverty by increasing farm incomes through more productive, stable, diverse and profitable crops and crop products;
  • Help halve hunger by contributing innovations that increase yields by 30% on a wide scale and through policy advice that stabilizes food prices and availability;
  • Help halve childhood malnutrition by enhancing the nutrient content of staple food crops and helping the poor diversify their crops, delivering more nutritious and safer food; and
  • Increase resilience of dryland farming through innovations that stabilize, safeguard and enhance natural resource capital, biological and systems diversity, and land

Research programs

ICRISAT is responsible for leading three regional and two global research programs:

  • Asia – The ICRISAT Research Program in Asia adopts an integrated and value chain approach to achieve the best possible impacts on farmers’ fields through building partnerships in India, as well as in a number of countries in Asia, such as China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, Myanmar and Nepal.
  • West and Central Africa (WCA) ICRISAT’s Regional Research Program in WCA has Country offices in Mali (Regional hub), Niger and Nigeria. Together with research and development institutions in the region, it conducts research to develop improved technologies to enhance the agricultural productivity of sorghum, pearl millet and groundnut.
  • Eastern and Southern Africa(ESA) – ICRISAT’s research program in ESA works to address the challenges of low productivity and profitability, poor access to improved inputs (seeds, fertilizer, knowledge) and equitable markets through its Country offices based in five countries — Kenya (Regional hub), Malawi, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique , as well as in Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan and Eritrea.
  • Genetic Gains – The Research Program on Genetic Gains aims to enhance the gains generated through breeding programs and varietal replacement in farmers’ fields by harnessing the full potential of the Institute’s genebank, modern genomics, molecular biology and breeding approaches.
  • Innovation Systems for the Drylands Innovation Systems for the Drylands is one of the two cross-cutting global programs at ICRISAT. The concept of an innovations systems approach recognizes the importance of conditions that are needed to create demand for technologies and how knowledge may be used to bring about food secure and sustainable livelihood systems in resource-constrained smallholder farming systems.

ICRISAT, with an annual budget of over USD 60 million, has a global workforce of over 3000 individuals in Asia and Africa.

Position overview

The Director General is based at ICRISAT’s headquarters and reports to the Governing Board.

The role of the Director General is to lead ICRISAT to ever-increasing development impact through its research. Specific responsibilities and activities include:

  • Managing ICRISAT as Chief Executive Officer with responsibility to the Governing Board for the overall management of the Institute. This includes:
    • Providing dynamic leadership and vision in a rapidly changing world for creating strategies to meet the demands of sustainable agricultural
    • Developing strategies and policies for the research agenda and fostering commitment from scientists from various disciplines for implementing the strategies and
    • Inspiring trust from staff of different nationalities and cultures; leading an internationally dispersed senior management team through modern management methods and
  • Policy setting, research planning, fundraising, budget development and allocation, as well as responsibility for global political and public relations both within and outside the This includes:
    • Enhancing and maintaining collaborative relationships involving international and advanced research centers and national agricultural research institutes in developing
    • Attracting sustained financial commitment from donor countries, agencies, and international organizations.
    • Developing amongst governments the long-term interest and support for the promotion and advancement of agricultural research in the semi-arid
    • Conceiving and stimulating appropriate and productive interactions amongst the public and private sectors and the NGO communities in agricultural

Candidate profile

The ideal candidate will have most, if not all, of the following skills, knowledge, experience, and personal characteristics:

  • Significant international research and development experience at the highest level, including the application of research results to product delivery strategies for developing countries conditions (addressing food security, poverty alleviation, human nutrition and health, and building agro-ecosystem resilience).
  • A sustained record of achievement and innovation, with an established reputation for cutting edge approaches; demonstrated skills as a scientist and senior administrator of scientific research.
  • A track record of progressively responsible leadership experience in multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary settings, including management of an organization or business unit in the public or private sectors or
  • Demonstrated success in delivering measurable impact and promoting research excellence in the context of multi-partner programs.
  • Evidence of strong, sustainable resource mobilization delivery, and effective communications with R&D and public and private sector investors, and policy
  • A PhD in a field relevant to agricultural research for
  • A track record as a courageous, visionary change agent that builds and improves organization culture, efficiency, and
  • A personal approach that exemplifies the values of the highest scientific and professional standards, with demonstrated commitment to collaboration, and gender equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • A management style that is collegial, consistent and transparent in decision-making; demonstrated comfort leading in a complex global environment.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English, with strong representational and advocacy skills.

ICRISAT has engaged the services of an executive search firm, SRI Executive to support the recruitment effort for this position. To be considered for the role, applications must be sent to by 30 April 2019. Applications should include a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae, and the names and contact information of three references. 

ICRISAT is committed to the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion. We encourage applications from women and nationals of developing countries.