22 August 2003, Rome -- Prabhu Pingali, economist and Director of the Division of Agricultural and Development Economics at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today begins a three-year term as President of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE), the UN agency announced today.

The announcement came as the IAAE, a professional organization with a membership of more than 3000 economists from around the world, holds its 25th international conference in Durban, South Africa.

In his acceptance speech, Pingali called on the association to play "a more active role in global policy debates, either through participation in international fora or through articles in the IAAE and website." He noted that the association includes a "very large number of internationally prominent economists whose views on contemporary policy debates are eagerly sought after."

Pingali also urged the IAAE to enhance its role in networking and information sharing, using web-based services to provide news on events important to the profession. "The web could also be used to bridge the information gap between developed and developing country economists and thereby increase the participation of developing country economists in the association's activities."

Pingali said the IAAE should "significantly increase its contact and communication with various regional associations of agricultural economists, particularly those in the developing world. There are important synergies that could result from the international and regional associations working together on conferences and workshops and by linking to each others' websites."

The presidency of the IAAE is an honorary position. Pingali was Vice-President of the IAAE from 1997-2000 and chairman of the program committee for the 24th International Conference of Agricultural Economists. Pingali has more than 20 years experience in assessing the extent and impact of technical change in developing country agriculture in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Before joining FAO, Pingali was Director of the Economic Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in, Mexico, the International Rice Research Institute at Los Baņos, Philippines and the World Bank's Agriculture and Rural Development Department.

An Indian national, Pingali earned his doctorate in Economics at North Carolina State University in 1982 in Raleigh, North Carolina, in the United States.

John Riddle
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570 53259