HarvestPlus is based at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and collaborates with multiple CGIAR centers and partner organizations. The Board of Trustees has delegated the responsibility for oversight of HarvestPlus to a Program Advisory Committee (PAC), which acts in effect as a Board of Trustees for HarvestPlus. The PAC includes the Director-General of IFPRI, one board member from the IFPRI Board of Trustees, as well as experts from developing and developed countries, covering a range of disciplines.

Senior Advisor

M.S. Swaminathan

UNESCO Cousteau Chair in Ecotechnology & Chairman
M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation

Program Advisory Committee (PAC)

Andrew Natsios

Director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs and Executive Professor, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University
PAC Chair

Andew Natsios photoAndrew S. Natsios is an executive professor at the Bush School and director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs. Natsios was most recently a Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and former administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). As USAID administrator from 2001-2006, Natsios managed reconstruction programs in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sudan. He also served as US special envoy to Sudan in 2006-2007.

Retired from the US Army Reserves at the rank of lieutenant colonel after twenty-three years, Natsios is a veteran of the Gulf War. From 1993 to 1998, he was vice president of World Vision US, the largest faith-based nongovernmental organization in the world, with programs in 103 countries. Earlier in his career, Natsios served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for twelve years and as the chief financial and administrative officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He also served as the CEO of Boston's Big Dig, the largest construction project in American history.

He is the author of three books: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1997); The Great North Korean Famine (2001); and his latest book, Sudan, South Sudan and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know, published in 2012 by Oxford University Press. He has contributed to thirteen other books. He has published numerous articles in Foreign Affairs, the New York TimesWashington PostWashington QuarterlyForeign Service Journal, and Wall Street Journal.

Djimé Adoum

Executive Secretary, CLISS
PAC Member

Dr. Djimé Adoum has been Executive Secretary of the Permanent Inter-States Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CLISS) since 2013. Prior to this, Dr. Adoum worked with USAID’s mission in Chad, the World Bank, and USDA, and served as Chad’s Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation. Throughout his career, Dr. Adoum has focused on improving irrigation strategies and famine early warning systems, addressed food self-sufficiency through new technologies, and strengthened research and extension services in the Sahel. Dr. Adoum has more than 30 years of experience in agricultural institution development, monitoring and evaluation, agricultural extension, agro-forestry, market linkages, and introducing new crops and technologies for crop production and management. Dr. Adoum earned his PhD in Agricultural Extension and Education from the University of Maryland. He also received an MSc and BSc in Agronomy from the University of Maryland.

Esi Foriwa Amoaful

Director of Nutrition, Ghana Health Service
PAC Member

Esi Foriwa Amoaful is currently the Director of Nutrition at the Ghana Health Service. She is a nutritionist and public health specialist who has spent close to two decades working in program design and management, capacity development, advocacy and policy development, applied research with special focus on childhood and maternal nutrition, and micronutrient malnutrition prevention. She previously worked as the national program manager 1996 to 2013 leading the setting up of the Vitamin A Deficiency Control Program covering fortification; supplementation and promoting diversified diets.

Ms. Amoaful has conducted extensive research in nutrition and health covering vitamin A and related fields as research fellow and Research Technical Advisor.

She has worked in the area of nutrition, gender and agriculture linkages, chaired the Steering Committee of the Vitamin A for Africa (VITAA), a partnership project for promoting the increased production and utilization of orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP). A member of the SASHA project team and Sweetpotato Support Platform for West Africa that is making OFSP available to reduce micronutrient deficiency; and currently working on the Ghana Jumpstarting Orange-fleshed Sweetpotato through Diversified Markets Project that seeks to achieve nutritional impact through generating demand for OFSP and other vitamin-A rich foods in antenatal counseling program of the Ghana Health Service and in local markets.

She holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Biochemistry from the University of Ghana.


Ken Noah Davies

Director (Retired), Purchase for Progress, World Food Programme
PAC Member

Ken Noah Davies PhotoKen Noah Davies was Director of the UN World Food Programme's Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative from 2009 until his retirement from WFP in June 2015. P4P leverages WFP's annual food procurement footprint of over US$1 billion, in partnership with other organisations, to build the capacity of smallholder farmers to access formal commercial markets for quality staple crops including cereals and pulses in Africa and Central America.

Previously, he was WFP Representative and Country Director in Mozambique (2006-2009), Uganda (2000-2006), Cambodia (1996-1999), Swaziland (1993-1996) and Adviser in India (1989-1993). In these roles, he has worked extensively with development, emergency response and post-conflict recovery programmes in multiple contexts. Prior to joining the UN, he was Band Aid/Live Aid Representative for Sudan, Eritrea and Tigray based in Khartoum; Agricultural Coordinator for Save the Children in western Sudan; Director of the NYC GreenThumb and Land Reclamation programs; an Agricultural Extension Agent for Cornell Cooperative Extension; and a farmer.

He holds bachelors and masters degrees in agriculture from Cornell University and a mid-career MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School. Ken and his wife Margrethe have five children and live in Jinja, Uganda.

David Governey 

Corporate Governance and Risk Management Consultant, Ireland
PAC Member

David Governey is an internationally experienced financial and operations professional and chartered accountant.

David is no stranger to the CGIAR global agriculture research partnership, having served as director of finance and administration at the International Food Policy Research Institute (2001–2014), director of finance and chief operating officer at the International Water Management Institute (1996–2001) and director of finance at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (1989–1996). From 2007 to 2014, David served as a director of the Association of International Agricultural Research Centers. Previously, David worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dublin as a senior manager and with Peat Marwick Mitchell in Zambia.

Since December 2014, David has consulted on corporate governance and risk management for international organizations headquartered in Switzerland, Kenya and the Philippines. He serves on the boards of Partner Africa, Gorta-Self Help Africa (where he chairs the audit and risk committee), and Africa Rice (as a member of the audit committee). 


Dr. Namanga Ngongi

Chairman of the Board of Trustees, African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership
PAC Member

Dr. Namanga Ngongi, a Cameroonian national, holds a PhD in Agronomy from Cornell University and has extensive experience in national and international affairs. He was Deputy Head of Projects in the Cameroon Ministry of Agriculture and later represented Cameroon at the United Nations food agencies in Rome. Dr. Ngongi was a member of the Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Vice Chair of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Committee on World Food Security, and Vice Chair of the FAO Programme Committee. He joined the World Food Programme in 1984 and served as Deputy Executive Director from 1994-2001.

Dr. Ngongi was appointed USG and UN Special Representative to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2001 and led the MONUC peacekeeping mission until the formation of a transitional government in 2003. He served as president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from 2007 to 2012, where he oversaw the establishment of innovative seed systems, policy support, and financing schemes in many African countries. He chairs the boards the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership, the International Center for Evaluation and Development (ICED) and the Seed Systems Group (SSG). Dr. Ngongi was a member of the Board of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) from 2013 to 2020 and served as Chair from 2018-2020.

Dr. Ngongi has been interested in nutrition issues since he was a representative to the UN food agencies in Rome. He served for two years as Chair of the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition (2000-2002). Dr. Ngongi is a member of the System Management Board of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and member of the boards of several Civil Society Groups in Cameroon focusing on Agriculture and Nutrition.

Andrew M. Prentice

Head, MRC International Nutrition Group, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK; Head, MRC Keneba, The Gambia; Theme Leader for Nutrition, The Gambia
PAC Member

Andrew M. Prentice photoBorn and bred in East Africa, Andrew Prentice has subsequently spent his entire career working on the challenges of improving maternal and child nutrition in low-income countries. He leads a large team working out of a remarkable rural fieldstation at MRC Keneba, in The Gambia. He also has major collaborations with studies in Kenya, Tanzania, Bangladesh, and India. His group’s mission is "to gain novel insights into the basic mechanisms linking diet and disease in order to develop more effective community and clinical interventions."

Prentice has special interests in iron, infection, and anemia and in the effects of maternal micronutrient status at the time of conception on the baby’s epigenome and how this impacts upon its development and future health.

His work has been recognized by a number of national and international awards including the Peter-Debye International Science Prize, the FENS Medal, the BNF Science Prize, the Gunnar-Levin Medal and Edna & Robert Langholtz International Nutrition Award, the Kellogg’s Science Prize, the EV McCollum International Lectureship and the IACON/SENC Award. He was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2013.

Prentice has been a member of numerous national and international advisory boards for nutrition policy as well as playing leading roles in academic societies in the UK and US. He is a Council Member for the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS).

He trained in biochemistry at the University of Leeds and obtained his Ph.D. in Nutrition at the University of Cambridge.

Amitava (Amit) Roy

Board Vice Chair, Sasakawa Africa Association
PAC Member

Dr. Amitava Roy is the Board Vice Chair of the Sasakawa Africa Association and former president and chief executive officer of the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). Currently he advises several countries in Africa south of the Sahara on agricultural sector development.    

Dr. Roy has helped to develop fertilizer and agricultural sectors in low- and middle-income countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. He played a pivotal role in the 2006 Africa Fertilizer Summit, which led to the Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer for an African Green Revolution.  

Roy created IFDC’s Virtual Fertilizer Research Center (VFRC) in 2010. The VFRC looks to be the cutting-edge global research initiative coordinating the creation of the next generation of fertilizers and production technologies. He co-led the Global Transdisciplinary Processes for Sustainable Phosphorous Management initiative, a multiple case study research project. In 2014, Roy co-edited Sustainable Phosphorus Management: A Global Transdisciplinary Roadmap, published by Springer. In 2012, Roy was appointed to the steering committee of the Global Nutrient Management Project of the United Nations Environment Program. 

Roy received a B.Tech. degree in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. 

Johan Swinnen

Director General, IFPRI
PAC Member

Johan Swinnen became director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in January 2020. Prior to joining IFPRI, Dr. Swinnen was professor of economics and director of the LICOS Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance at KU Leuven (Belgium) and senior research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels.

Dr. Swinnen was a lead economist at the World Bank from 2003 to 2004 and economic adviser to the European Commission from 1998 to 2001. Over the course of his career, Dr. Swinnen has been a visiting professor at various universities, including at Stanford University’s Center on Food Security and the Environment, and a frequent adviser to institutions such as the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Dr. Swinnen earned his PhD from Cornell University (USA) and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Göttingen (Germany) and the Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra (Slovakia). He is a fellow of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association and the European Association of Agricultural Economists, and he served as president of the International Association of Agricultural Economists from 2012 to 2015. Dr. Swinnen has published extensively on agricultural and food policies, international development, political economy, institutional reforms, trade, and global value chains, and his body of work has been widely cited. 

Margret Thalwitz

Board Chair, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
PAC Member

Margaret Thalwitz photoMargaret Thalwitz holds an MA in Economics and a Post Graduate Diploma in Development Economics from the German Development Institute. She has extensive experience gained in positions as country economist, and project and sector manager, at the World Bank with a regional concentration in Africa, Europe and Central Asia, and South Asia. Ms. Thalwitz was the first Director of the World Bank's Global Programs and Partnerships Department.

After leaving the Bank she became a visiting fellow at Oxford University and the German Development Institute and is currently a Senior Expert Fellow with the Centre for Global Cooperation Research at the University of Essen-Duisburg. She has been a consultant to the World Bank, UNICEF, and the German government. She joined the Board of ICARDA in October 2012.    


Joe Tohme

Research Director, CIAT Agrobiodiversity Programs
PAC Member

Joe Tohme brings over 30 years of research integrating genomics with breeding and germplasm conservation activities in addition to extensive management experience to CIAT. Joe coordinates CIAT's multi-disciplinary agrobiodiversity teams. The teams focus on genetic resources, biotechnology, bean, cassava, forages, and rice programs. Joe also coordinates the biotechnology activities of HarvestPlus and co-founded the Global Cassava Partnership (GCP-21). Joe is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He holds a PhD in Crop Sciences from Michigan State University. 

Paulus Verschuren

Chair, Access to Nutrition Foundation
PAC Member

Paulus Verschuren’s involvement in the interrelated fields of agriculture, food, nutrition, and health began after his education as a biologist and included roles with both the public and private sector, including with Unilever and the Dutch Government. Paulus works across disciplines and developed the “Dutch Diamond” approach of building partnerships with private sector, public sector, civic society and knowledge institutes, working together to resolve issues of food and malnutrition. Paulus was the Special Envoy for Food and Nutrition Security for the Dutch government. In this role, he introduced nutrition within the arena of agriculture and food security and helped build public-private partnerships responding to the zero hunger challenge. Previously, Paulus had a successful career at Unilever where he held various managerial positions, all geared toward improving peoples' nutrition and wellbeing: initially in the field of over-nutrition, and later in building a world without hunger and micronutrient malnutrition. Paulus also served the as Executive Director and Chair of ILSI Europe and chaired the GAIN Business Alliance. He now combines various activities including Chair of the Access to Nutrition Foundation, Non-Executive Board member of CABI, Chair of Local Heroes, and Chair of the SDGP Advisory Committee of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He holds an MSc in Biology. 



Lawrence Kent

Senior Program Officer, Agricultural Development  
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Designated Representative to PAC

Lawrence has worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 2007. He currently leads the Seed Systems and Variety Improvement (SSAVI) portfolio and has primary responsibility for the Biofortification and Transgenic Product Development body of work within the Innovations Driving Effective Agricultural Systems (IDEAS) team.
Prior to joining the IDEAS team, Lawrence led the foundation’s Integrated Value Chain Team for root and tuber crops, and prior to that, he was a member of the Agriculture R&D team, serving for 20 months as the leader of that team on an interim basis. 
Currently, Lawrence manages a portfolio of ten grants, including our flagship projects for biofortification (HarvestPlus), biotech crops (TELA maize, Golden Rice, Virus-resistant Cassava) and biosafety regulatory capacity building (ABNE). He also manages grants focusing on cassava seed systems and weed management. Lawrence serves as the Gates Foundation’s official “relationship manager” with Bayer CropScience. 
Prior to coming to Seattle, Lawrence served as the Director of International Programs at the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, where he managed humanitarian projects to develop disease-resistant varieties of cassava, sweet potatoes, and maize for Africa. From 1998 to 2002, he lived in Egypt, where he worked as an agricultural policy advisor in the Ministry of Agriculture, and before that in Burkina Faso, where he served as a food security advisor for Catholic Relief Services. Lawrence also lived in Chad for two years, where he assisted CARE and USAID with various agricultural development programs.  
From 1990 to 1996, Lawrence worked as an economist for a consulting firm serving USAID, UNDP, and the World Bank, carrying out assignments in 25 countries in Africa and Asia. Lawrence began his career as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa, living in an ultra-poor village in Mauritania from 1985 to 1987, working as an extension agent, training farmers to grow rice. He earned a master’s degree in development economics from Princeton University in 1989. Lawrence speaks decent French, Spanish, and Arabic. 

Stay up to date with us
Stay Up to Date