In a press release CIP mentioned that Dr. Heck is widely recognized as a 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. Dr. Heck has led the scaling of CIP’s work on sweetpotato biofortification, which has reached more than seven million households across Africa and South Asia. He is currently CIP’s Director of the Sweetpotato Agri-food System Program and Lead of the CGIAR Initiative on Resilient Cities.
In his new role, Dr. Heck will focus on 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. This will involve supporting breeding in national crop improvement programs, strengthening the climate resilience of key agri-food production systems, and promoting market innovations to improve incomes, jobs, and access to heathy diets for marginalized rural and urban communities. Dr. Heck will also serve as a CGIAR Senior Director and member of CGIAR’s Senior Leadership Team.
Dr. Heck 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.”
An anthropologist by training, Dr. Heck joined CIP in 2012 as Deputy Manager for Sweetpotato in Africa Program, where he led the UK-funded Scaling-Up Sweetpotato through Agriculture and Nutrition (SUSTAIN) project, which partnered with a broad array of government and non-profit organizations to help more than two million people in six African countries improve their food production and diet diversity. He previously worked with WorldFish, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the UK’s Department for International Development.
Dr. Helen Hambly, Chair of CIP’s Board of Trustees, said: “In his decade with CIP, coordinating multi-stakeholder partnerships and delivering innovations and improvements for vulnerable rural and urban communities in Africa and Asia, Dr. Heck has proven his ability to foster more productive, gender-responsive, and equitable food systems. Dr. Heck’s experience and research expertise, including in the important area of innovation in urban food systems, makes him the right person to lead CIP as we respond to growing global demand for the nutritional outcomes, productivity, and resilience of potato and sweetpotato agri-food systems, collaborating with other CGIAR Centers to deliver high-impact programs that tackle complex problems.”
According to Dr. Claudia Sadoff, CGIAR’s Executive Managing Director: “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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