• By The Financial District


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 Secretary Dar is cited for his leadership and unwavering efforts to transform Philippine agriculture into a dynamic high-growth sector.

Mills pointed out as well that the board of judges put premium on Dar’s initiative in making the Department of Agriculture transparent and “erase the old-stricken image of a corrupt-driven department.”

While other economic sectors posted negative growth amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s agriculture sector, through Dar’s guidance grew by 1.6 percent, during the second quarter of 2020.

Appointed by President Rodriga Roa Duterte in August 2019 and serving under the Estrada administration in 1998, he is the first Filipino to lead a global agricultural research institute, serving an unprecedented three terms as director-general of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), based in India.

During his fifteen years at ICRISAT, the government of India in 2013 conferred on him the prestigious “MS Swaminathan Award” for leadership in agriculture. 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, Dar led the Inang Lupa Movement that, guided by an inclusive, science-based, resilient, and market-oriented development strategy advocated for the modernization and industrialization of Philippine agriculture,.

“Seeing the many colleagues in government who are as committed to their work as I am, truly, it is beyond me having been chosen to receive the Asia CEO Award for the public sector. Nonetheless, I am truly honored,” Dar said.

“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 promised to continue to implement the same style of leadership built on humility and trust as he pursues the enormous task of rebooting Philippine agriculture in the face of 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.”

“But, we will not lose sight of our mandate and priorities. We will perform our task guided by the principles of good governance, transparency, consultative engagement, and most importantly, with a greater sense of urgency,” he added.

“This is how I have led, and how I will be leading in the next two years as we lay the foundation for a food-secure and resilient Philippines, where empowered and prosperous farmers and fisherfolk can have decent and stable incomes through engagement in on-farm, off-farm and non-farm activities,” he stressed - dedicating the recognition especially to the hard-working Filipino farmers and fisherfolk.

Secretary Dar said being vetted 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.

The board of judges will formally announce the awardees for the respective categories of The 11th Asia Ceo Awards on the event proper on October 13, 2020, which will be streamed live across Asia via their Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/AsiaCeoAwards.

The board includes: noted economist Dr. Bernie Villegas; former Pag-IBIG Fund CEO 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 Richard Mills, former president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.