Global agricultural research council appoints UC Davis sustainability leader

Global agricultural research council appoints UC Davis sustainability leader

July 23, 2014

Thomas Tomich, director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, has been appointed a scientific adviser to the world’s preeminent agricultural research system, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

CGIAR is a publicly funded research consortium working in more than 100 developing countries to eliminate hunger and poverty, improve food and nutritional security, and sustainably manage natural resources. CGIAR programs around the globe focus on topics as diverse as increasing profitability for small-scale rice farmers in the Philippines and global efforts to adapt to climate change.

Tomich will be a member of CGIAR’s Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC), providing expert scientific advice to improve the quality, relevance, and impact of CGIAR’s research portfolio of over $1.1 billion per year.

“With this council appointment, I will stay at the cutting edge of global science on food systems and sustainable agricultural development, and bring that back to ASI and my research and teaching at UC Davis,” said Tomich, a UC Davis professor and W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems. “I hope this effort contributes to maintaining California’s leadership in agricultural science and innovation.”

Seven scientific advisers compose the Independent Science and Partnership Council representing disciplines in agriculture, environmental sciences, ecology, and economics. Council members are from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Kenya, and the United Kingdom. Tomich is the only U.S.-based member of the council.

“For half a century, CGIAR has been the single most effective use of development aid funding,” said Howard-Yana Shapiro, Chief Agricultural Officer at Mars Inc. and Chair of ASI’s External Advisory Board. “This indispensable institution has grown rapidly and is in the midst of reforming to meet huge 21st century challenges.” Shapiro currently serves on CGIAR’s midterm review panel, guiding its reform process.

“The Independent Science and Partnership Council plays a key role in ensuring scientific quality and integrity for the whole research system,” said Shapiro. “Tom is committed to the highest standards of science, and has the deep understanding of sustainability required to make transformative change at a global level. His appointment is a great opportunity to help shape the future of food on the planet and also to better link UC Davis to global agricultural research.”

Prior to his service at UC Davis, Tomich worked for the World Agroforestry Center, a CGIAR center, as principal economist and global coordinator of the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins. He has worked in a dozen countries, including significant periods based in Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, and now in his home state of California.

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis promotes the vitality of California agriculture through multidisciplinary research, education, and outreach. Formed in 2006, ASI was pivotal in developing UC Davis’ new undergraduate major in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, and houses five programs, each dedicated to emerging issues in sustainability.