CIMMYT bid farewell to Bekele Shiferaw, former director and principal scientist of the Socioeconomics Program, at a luncheon hosted in his honor in Nairobi on 1 October. Staff members paid tribute to Shiferaw’s work, highlighting the global growth and expansion of the program under his leadership from 2009 to 2013.
He also received a plaque from CIMMYT acknowledging his valuable role in the organization. Signed by Andrew Barr, chair of the Board of Trustees, and Director General Thomas Lumpkin, the plaque read in part: “For your enormous contribution to rebuilding the Socioeconomics Program, guiding and managing a phase of substantial and rapid growth, shaping the MAIZE and WHEAT CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) … and studying and championing the potential of wheat in Africa and its formal recognition as a strategic crop for that region. These and your other contributions to CIMMYT’s mission will always be remembered.”
Shiferaw is a supervisor who “helps you know how far you can stretch,” said Joyce Kiplimo, an administrator who worked closely with him. Other attendees thanked him for his work with the program. “Bekele will be remembered for the quality staff in the program and for his effort to expand projects across regions,” said Wilfred Mwangi, the regional liaison officer. Olaf Erenstein, the new program director, acknowledged Shiferaw’s role in establishing a team with diversity in its disciplinary expertise. “Thank you for all your time and efforts in getting us where we are,” Erenstein said.
Shiferaw thanked CIMMYT staff members, especially those in the Socioeconomics Program, who worked with and supported him in developing strategies, attracting resources and recruiting staff to rebuild the program. He also thanked the program directors for their support, which enabled him to grow the program and strengthen ties invaluable for conducting multidisciplinary research in all regions. “We have strengthened ties with all the programs and launched large projects on Sustainable Intensification, Adoption Pathways, Postharvest Management, Climate Change and Food Security (CCAFS), Global Futures and Policy, Institutions and Markets (CRP2),” Shiferaw said. “We managed to raise the profile of wheat in Africa by engaging policy makers,” he added, referring to the Wheat in Africa conference that resulted in the inclusion of wheat as a major strategic crop for Africa.
Shiferaw said he looks forward to future collaboration in his new role as executive director of the Partnership for Economic Policy, an international organization that links a global network of institutions, researchers and experts to enhance capacity in economic and development policy analysis in developing countries.