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Ousmane Badiane

Africa Director for the International Food Policy Research Institute

Senegal

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

Ousmane Badiane has been a driving force in the emergence and growth of the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).  He has worked tirelessly for over a decade to advocate, organize, and breathe life into CAADP.  Long before the world food crisis of 2008, he and his close colleague, Richard Mkandawire, waged an often lonely, committed campaign urging priority investments in agriculture.  Enlisting legions of his colleagues at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), he has marshaled an impressive array of analytical evidence in support of an agricultural growth agenda for Africa. 

Ousmane Badiane offers a rare blend of professional strengths, including strong conceptual, analytical, interpersonal and management skills.  He has consistently insisted on empirically based analysis, technically sound investment planning, and professional accountability in agricultural investment programming.  While actively promoting increased investment in agriculture in the short run, he has been equally active in investing in the capacity of a new generation of young Africans who will conduct the professional diagnostics required to effectively accelerate agricultural growth over time. 

What motivated you to pursue a career in agriculture?

  • I loved school, especially biology and math. 
  • I grew up in a farming area.  My grandfather had lots of land and my father practiced horticulture. 
  • Following their example and building on my own professional experience, I have begun growing high-quality mangoes for export. 

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

  • Motivate youth to become interested in agriculture.  Make it cool. Use ICT to diagnose plant diseases quickly. Demonstrate modern biological techniques, like tissue culture. Send time photos of pests sent by cell phone to specialists for identification and recommended remedies. 
  • Lower levels of education are more important than university for the practicing farmer. Focus on vocational and trade schools first. Rather than running pilot projects, governments need to mainstream professional and technical training in agriculture, alongside elementary, tertiary, and secondary education.
  • Farmers need direct access to professional and technical education.    “Everyone else—engineers, extension agents, planners and researchers—gets trained.  Yet the farmer gets no training. He/she has to rely on his/her God given talent.”
  • Develop professional vocational agricultural education, similar to the German DEULA model.  Africa needs to build trade schools to modernize knowledge and skills and apply them to agriculture, agro-processing and agribusiness.  Having studied in Germany, I was impressed by the German agricultural education system – DEULA – which is a totally separate secondary education system for agriculture.  Africa needs flexible, professional agricultural schools, like trade schools. 
  • Treat farming as a competitive business.  Emphasize business opportunities in agriculture.  Africa has land and water.  The world needs food.  African farmers can be highly competitive in local and international markets. “The gold of tomorrow looks green.” 

Career highlights

  • International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Director for Africa, 2008 onwards.
  • World Bank, Lead Specialist for Food and Agricultural Policy, Africa Region, 1998-2008.
  • World Bank, CAADP Liaison, 2003 onwards.
  • IFPRI, Senior Research Fellow, 1989-1997.
  • GIZ (Then GTZ), Fachkonzeptionist, Ernaehrungssicherung (Program Specialist, Food Security), 1988.

 Educational background

  • Primary school:              Kaolack Primary School.
  • Secondary school:          Kaolack Secondary School.
  • University:                     M.Sc. & PhD, Agricultural Economics, University of Kiel.