Selected Profile from Directory

Photo of Baba Dioum

Baba Dioum

Coordinator General, Conference of West and Central African Ministers of Agriculture

Senegal

What most impressed the professional colleagues who nominated this role model?

Baba Dioum is surely one of Africa’s most influential, effective advocates for improved agricultural and natural resource management. From his early work in rural development in Senegal, he became heavily involved in the international environmental movement.  As a founding member of the Executive Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in 1973, he has served as an international leader in agriculture, natural resource management and food security ever since. 

In the early 1990s, he helped to organize the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture for West and Central Africa, and he has served as Coordinator General since its inception. Seemingly tireless, he continues to serve on a variety of boards and to promote agricultural growth and environmental stewardship in a remarkably broad range of institutions and roles. 

What motivated you to pursue a career in agriculture?

  • I grew up in an agricultural environment, in a rural area of north-east Senegal.  I went to the fields every day after Koranic school.
  • My father was a trader dealing in groundnuts and cattle, and I saw French buyers come to the house regularly.
  • I grew up seeing agriculture as a very important, profitable business. 
  • The day I left to study in France, my father told me, “Never forget these simple houses you are leaving!” 

How can agricultural education institutions more effectively prepare African students for successful agribusiness careers? 

  • Promote broad strategic thinking.  Students need to have a global vision of agriculture as well as an understanding of the complex links between agriculture, markets, soils, water and natural resource management.
  • Build practical technical skills that respond to needs of society and the business community.
  • Communication skills: Successful students and successful professionals need to communicate knowledge clearly and be able to engage effectively with farmers, businesses and government actors involved in agricultural development. 

Career highlights

  • Coordinator General, Conference of West and Central African Ministers of Agriculture, 1991 to present.
  • Chair, Food Security Information Network (FSIN), Rome.
  • Chair, CAADP Pillar 2 Reference Group.
  • Past member of the board of directors, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). 
  • Director of the Agricultural Policy Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Senegal, 1918-1995.
  • Founding Member of the Executive Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
  • Founding Member and Executive Governor, International Council for Environmental Law.
  • CEO, Société Nationale de Fourrage (SONAFOR), 1974-1980.
  • Director General of Water and Forestry, Senegal, 1967-1973.

Educational background

  • Primary school:              
    • Dara primary school.
    • Regional primary school at Linguère.
  • Secondary school:          
    • École Blanchot, Saint Luis.
    • Lycée Van Vollenhoven, Dakar.
  • University:                     
    • University of Dakar, Natural Sciences.
    • University of Sorbonne, Sciences.
    • Ecole nationale des eaux et forêts de Nancy, Diplôme d’Ingénieur des Eaux et Forêts.