Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar was chosen as the “Lifetime Contributor” awardee for the public sector by the board of judges of Asia CEO Awards 2020, which recognizes leaders for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the country as a whole.

Richard Mills, chair of the award-giving body, said Dar was cited for his leadership and unwavering efforts to transform Philippine agriculture into a dynamic high-growth sector.

“William Dar is a global leader in agriculture governance and research. As current secretary of agriculture, he is leading efforts to transform Philippine agriculture into a dynamic high-growth sector to speed up the country’s recovery and poverty reduction,” said Mills.

Amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the country’s agriculture sector grew by 1.6 percent, during the second quarter of 2020, while other economic sectors posted negative growth.

Mills said the Asia CEO Awards 2020 board of judges also put a premium in Dar’s initiative in making the Department of Agriculture transparent and “erase the old-stricken image of a corrupt-driven department.”

The board included: noted economist Dr. Bernie Villegas; former Pag-IBIG Fund chief executive offier Darlene Berberabe; former president of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Don Felbaum; world-renowned architectural design and planning expert Jun Palafox; former Management Association of the Philippines president Marife Zamora; and Mills, former president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

Dar was appointed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in August 2019. He served as acting agriculture secretary in 1998 during the Estrada administration.

He is the first Filipino to lead a global agricultural research institute, serving an unprecedented three five-year terms as director-general of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in India.

While at ICRISAT, the government of India conferred on him the prestigious “MS Swaminathan Award” for leadership in agriculture in 2013. The award is India’s version of the World Food Prize, and named after Dr. Swaminathan, considered as India’s father of “green revolution.”

Dar left a legacy at ICRISAT that continues to benefit millions of small farmers in India, Africa, and other dry-land countries, including the Philippines.

When he returned to the Philippines in 2015, after 15 years managing ICRISAT, Dar led the Inang Lupa Movement that advocated for the modernization and industrialization of Philippine agriculture, guided by an inclusive, science-based, resilient, and market-oriented development strategy.

Dar said the recognition by the Asia CEO Awards provides workers and leaders in the public sector with the much-needed push to continuously strive for excellence in their respective agencies for the good of their clientele and the country and to build a career based on accomplishments.

Dedication to farmers, fishers

“Truly, it is beyond me why I was chosen to receive the Asia CEO Award for the public sector, seeing many colleagues in government who work as committed as I do. Nonetheless, I am truly honored,” Dar said, as he dedicated the recognition to the hard-working Filipino farmers and fisherfolk.

“It gives me a certain level of comfort that my career in agriculture spanning four decades has contributed in helping farmers and fisherfolk secure the quality of life they richly deserve,” he added.

He said he will continue to implement his style of leadership, built on humility and trust, as he pursues the enormous task of rebooting Philippine agriculture amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This protracted crisis has highlighted, more than ever, the importance of food adequacy and nutrition security to protect the people’s welfare during such a difficult period, as well as the critical role of the agri-fishery sector in rebuilding our economy under the new normal,” Dar added.

The 11th Asia CEO Awards is set on October 13, 2020, when the board of judges will formally announce the awardees under respective categories. The event will be streamed live on the Asia CEO Awards Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/AsiaCeoAwards .  (DA StratComms)

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