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Zhang TaolinDr. Zhang Taolin (China) is currently Vice Minister of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China. Dr. Zhang obtained his PhD in Agronomy at Justus-Liebig-Universitaet Giessen, Germany, where he studied soil science and agroecology. As an expert on soil degradation and sustainability, he has become renowned for his research on red soil.

In the early 1990s, he became one of the youngest organizers of national agricultural scientific projects. Since then, he has authored 120 theses; 3 monographs; and 5 compilations of papers on soil quality, degradation of red soil, assessment of soil fertility in southern China, and agricultural sustainability. During the same period, Dr. Zhang presided over a number of national and international research projects. Due to his achievements in academia, Dr. Zhang began serving in the mid-1990s as Deputy Director and then Director of the Institute of Soil Science at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He then took the position of the Vice Mayor of Nanjing Municipality, Jiangsu Province, and then Vice Governor of Jiangsu Province.

Barbara WellsDr. Wells is a seasoned senior executive with extensive domestic and international leadership and management expertise. She has over 30 years of experience in developing commercial, technical and regulatory strategies for the launch of conventional seed and seedling products and products of renewable energy, crop protection and plant technology in agricultural and forestry markets throughout the world. She has a Ph.D., Agronomy/Weed Science, Oregon State University, MS, Plant Pathology/Nematology, and BS with Honors, Horticulture, University of Arizona.

Her previous post was Vice President Global Strategy, Agrivida, Inc., a firm that develops feed-stocks for the production of biofuels and bio-products from non-food agricultural residues and dedicated biomass crops. This was preceded as President of BHW Enterprises, a company specialized in providing consulting services in agriculture and renewable energy. From 2002 to 2012 she was President and Chief Executive Officer of ArborGen, Inc., a global forestry tree seedling, and tree breeding business. She led the transformation of the organization from a tissue culture start-up company to a fully operational business with over $30 million in revenues, and commercial sales of over 250 million tree seedlings. Prior to joining ArborGen, Dr. Wells was Vice President responsible for growth initiatives and investments in Latin America for Emergent Genetics, an agricultural investment firm.

In her early career, she worked in field product development with Monsanto where she moved from a scientific representative role to the leader of the development team across the world for many crops: tree crops, fruits and nuts, cotton, and others. Throughout her career, Dr. Wells and has worked with farmers and applied her science to improve the productivity of the farmer, framing science for applied solutions at the farmer level.

Dr. Wells has spent a large part of her life outside of the USA. She grew up in Peru and Bolivia, was based in Brazil for several years and speaks Spanish and Portuguese. Her move to CIP corresponds with her ambition to improve the livelihoods of the world's poor farmers, and to drive forwards the mission of CIP in rural development.

Bir Pal SinghDr. Bir Pal Singh (India) is Director of the Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI), Shimla since 2010. He previously served as Joint Director of the Central Potato Research Institute Campus (CPRIC), Modipuram, the biggest research Station of the Central Potato Research Institute, from 2000-2010. Both institutions are part of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR). Dr. Singh has worked in various capacities at Central Potato Research Institute 1983.

He obtained his B.Sc., Master's and Ph.D. degrees from Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh with distinction and joined Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in 1977. He is working on potato pathology for the last 35 years and is well known for his work on sexuality in Phytophthora infestans and its implications on Late Blight epidemiology; developed a computerized Late Blight forecasting system for Uttar Pradesh. He has also catalogued Phytophthora infestans population using both biological and molecular markers including DNA content (ploidy), isozymes and RAPD. He has published over 165 research papers and a number of technical bulletins and book chapters. He has won several awards including the "Hari Om Ashram Trust" award and ICAR team research award. Currently, he is member of Steering Committee Coordinator of Global Initiative on Late Blight (GILB) for South-West Asian region and International Advisor to World Potato Congress. He had been Member, Editorial Board of Indian Phytopathological Society; President, Secretary and Editor of the Indian Potato Association. He was also actively associated in organizing several national and international seminars and symposia on potatoes and plant pathology.

Patrick MurphyPatrick J. Murphy serves on the executive committees of the boards of directors of IFDC, HarvestPlus and the Centro Internacional de La Papa He also serves as head of their audit committees and on the budget and Africa committees of the IFDC board.

Murphy served as the senior bank advisor for the Economic Policy Group in the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq in 2003. In this position, he started post-conflict lending activities at a major government commercial bank; planned the conversion/monetization of the UN Oil for Food Program to a smart card system; and negotiated and implemented micro-lending contracts to provide micro and small business loans throughout the country.

Murphy held several executive positions with Bank of America, including vice president and manager of the New York International Private Banking Office , senior marketing officer of the Global Network Initiative, senior debt negotiator of Global Public Debt Management and as a senior credit officer in the Bank's Latin American Division. He worked many years in Latin America where he financed private sector enterprises and government development projects.

Murphy holds a master’s degree in international affairs (concentrating in development economics and Latin American studies) from Columbia University in New York.

Frannie LeautierFrannie Léautier, (France and Tanzania) is Partner and CEO of Mkoba Private Equity, a fund created to offer growth capital to small and medium enterprises in Africa. Previously she served as World Bank Vice President (2001-2007) and held many positions over a career spanning 15 years at the World Bank, including Chief of Staff to the President of the World Bank and Director for Infrastructure with responsibility for the quality of the World Bank’s infrastructure portfolio (over $30 billion). She served as Founder and Managing Partner of the Fezembat Group, a company focused on risk management and leadership development serving multinationals investing in Europe, Africa and Asia. Dr. Léautier has a rich experience in Africa having served as Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) from 2009 to 2013. She holds a number of board positions: as a non-Executive Director at PTA Bank; as a Director at Large at AERC; as a founding Board Member at Nelson Mandela Institute for Science & Technology; as a founding member of the Journal of Infrastructure Systems and member of the editorial board of the Journal of African Trade (JAT); as a member the board at UONGOZI Institute, Visiting Committees at the MIT Corporation, and on the Advisory Board of Women’s World Banking. She served as Co-Chair for World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa and is a member of the WEF Global Agenda Councils. She also served on the advisory board of MIT-OCW. She has a BsC in Civil Engineering from University of Dar es Salaam; holds a Masters and PhD from MIT; graduated Harvard University’s Executive Program; and holds an honorary degree in Humane Letters from North Central College in recognition of her contribution to Africa. She holds the title of Queen of Development for the Agona area in Ghana. She was Distinguished Professor at Sciences Po Paris. Dr. Léautier is well published with a series of books and articles, including a well-acclaimed book on Leadership in a Globalized World.

Rodney D. CookeDr. Rodney D. Cooke is currently Board Chair of CIP, and works as an independent consultant in agriculture and rural development. He served as Director of IFAD's Policy and Technical Advisory Division (PTA) since 2000. IFAD is an International Financial Institution and a Specialized United Nations Agency whose mission is to enable poor rural people to overcome poverty. Its main objective is to provide direct funding and to mobilize additional resources for programs designed to promote the economic advancement of the rural poor. From 1995-2000 Dr. Cooke was Director of CTA (ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, Wageningen, The Netherlands), whose programs reflect and respond to ACP (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific) needs. He has also served as Deputy Director NRI (Natural Resources Institute, Chatham, UK), Head of Natural Resource Management Division (1992-1995) and as Deputy Director NRI, Head of Finance and Central Services Division, including leader of Marketing Group (1989-1992).

Dr. Cooke obtained his BSc. In Biochemistry and his PhD. in Protein Chemistry and Enzymology from Bristol University, UK. He was a Visiting Scientist (plant biochemistry) at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, in 1970.

His key expertise is in institutional appraisal, corporate planning and management of change; project identification, implementation, monitoring and evaluation; R&D management and technology transfer and training programmes. His experience includes short and long-term assignments in Latin America, Africa, India and S-E Asia.

Jim EcklesJim Eckles (USA) joined the CIP board of trustees in 2015. He is currently a partner in the agribusiness consulting company “The Context Network” where he manages projects around the world for organizations involved in agriculture. He is responsible for the Context business in Latin America (

Eckles has worked close to agriculture for 40 years. His experience includes farming in Belize and managing businesses for multinational companies such as Cargill, ICI and Zeneca. He managed seed companies in both Mexico and Brazil. He was highly involved in the early development of agricultural biotechnology through the 1990s. He has been a management consultant to agribusiness since 2000.

Eckles is an expert at strategy, business development and implementing alliances between organizations. He has established and managed many development collaborations with academic and scientific organizations and is skilled in technology licensing. He is a certified M&A advisor. Eckles has a degree in Anthropology from the University of Texas and a Masters degree in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M University. In addition to English, he speaks Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.

Linley Chiwona-KarltunDr. Chiwona-Karltun´s (Sweden/Malawi) training includes a PhD in International Health from Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from Uppsala University, Sweden and a Bachelor´s degree in Food Nutrition and Institutional Management from East Carolina University, USA.

Dr. Chiwona-Karltun is currently serving as a lecturer and research fellow at The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Sweden since 2002. Dr. Chiwona-Karltun conducts multidisciplinary research that include food safety and food security with particular focus on complementary food-feed-energy systems that are central to rural and urban Africa populations in achieving good nutritional and health outcomes. She has published peer-review papers, book chapters, teaching materials, popular science, media debates, conference papers, and is currently editing a book. Dr. Chiwona-Karltun has also served at the International Foundation for Science (IFS) as a Scientific Coordinator and trainer in partnership with the African Women in Agriculture Research and Development (AWARD 2008-2010).

Additionally, Dr. Chiwona-Karltun serves in several national and international managing and advisory boards of scientific, government, social and economic organizations. For example, she is a member of the AMBIO a journal of the Human Environment and The African Nutrition Society. Dr. Chiwona-Karltun is the co-founder of the Chinangwa ndi Mbatata Roots and Tubers Enterprise (CMRTE) in Malawi that has membership of over 3000 farmers and more than 80% are women. Dr. Chiwona-Karltun is also a founding member of The African Agricultural Professionals in the Diaspora-Europe (AAAPD) and The Network of African European Women Scientists (NAWES). Dr. Chiwona-Karltun is involved in social entrepreneurial activities that include empowering Africans interested in farming and agribusiness with capabilities that enable them to positively affect their livelihood trajectories. For example, Women in Agribusiness Sub-Saharan Africa Alliance (WASAA) and Market Matters Incorporated (MMInc). Dr. Chiwona-Karltun has recently received scientific recognitions as an African Agricultural Role Model by the Modernizing African Food Systems Consortium (MAFS). Dr. Chiwona-Karltun was born and raised in Malawi and has been living and working in Sweden for the last twenty-six years. Dr. Chiwona-Karltun is married and has two children.

Andres CasasAndrés Casas, Agronomist (Perú) is Professor at Univ. Nac. Agraria La Molina (UNALM) since 1979. He has been Head of the Vegetable Research Center (1990 – 1995) and Head of the Department of Horticulture (2009 – 2011), both of UNALM. He obtained his B.S. in Agronomy from Univ. Nac. Agraria La Molina and his M. S. in Vegetable Crops from Univ. of California at Davis. He is working in vegetable crops production and post harvest handling. Main areas of research are native vegetables germplasm evaluation, asparagus production and post harvest handling, production technology in peppers, onions, artichoke and cucurbits (plant density, fertilization, irrigation). He has published several research papers and bulletins. He has been President of the Sociedad Peruana en Horticultura (Peruvian Society in Horticulture) participating in the organization of local meeting and international symposia related to vegetable crops (asparagus, peppers, artichoke).

Ph.D in Genetics with over 20 years of experience in Agricultural Sciences, as well as building and leading teams in the Peru, US, Europe and Mexico.Alberto Maurer He worked in Peru as Field Application Specialist at SYNGENTA and for POLACCO LAB in the US, training Master and PhD students in lab techniques. At the Netherlands he worked for KEYGENE as a Manager Operational Support and for ENZA ZADEN as a Manager Seed Technology. In Mexico he was Director R & D at INNOVAK. On November 2014 he was designated as head of The National Institute of Agricultural Innovation (INIA) in Peru.


His background includes extensive project management, research and development, marketing experience and quality assurance in areas such as classical breeding, plant molecular genetics, genome sequencing, molecular marker technology, seed pathology, seed physiology, seed quality certifications (germination and pathology), high‐throughput phenotyping, IP rights and others.

He is a natural leader that builds cohesive teams from diverse individuals and providing them motivation to achieve goals. Highly organized and analytical with excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Fluent in English and Spanish and conversant in Dutch and Portuguese.