Speakers and Panelists


Keynote Speakers

AdesinaDr. Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has been widely acknowledged as a champion of agricultural growth and innovation in Africa. He was named Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2013 for his bold reforms in Nigeria’s agriculture sector, which has empowered more than six million farmers to embrace agriculture as a business. In 2010, Dr. Adesina was awarded the Borlaug CAST Award by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, USA, for his global leadership on agricultural science and technology. Dr. Adesina is also a laureate of the prestigious YARA Prize, which he won in 2007 for his leadership in pioneering innovative approaches to improve access to agricultural inputs for African farmers. He is a recipient of Nigeria’s second-highest National Honor, the Commander of the Order of Nigeria, for outstanding service to his country.

Dr. Adesina boasts more than 20 years of experience managing successful agricultural programs across Africa. Until his appointment as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2011, Dr. Adesina was the Vice President of Policy & Partnerships at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Before joining AGRA in 2008, he was associate director for Food Security at the Rockefeller Foundation for more than a decade. He has held senior leadership positions within the research centers of the CGIAR Consortium, including the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA), and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). More

Chris_EliasDr. Chris Elias, President of the Global Development Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, leads the foundation’s efforts in integrated and innovative delivery, finding creative new ways to ensure solutions and products get into the hands of people in developing countries who need them most. Focusing on areas with the potential for high-impact, sustainable solutions that can reach hundreds of millions of people, Dr. Elias oversees Global Development’s portfolio in Agriculture Development; Family Planning; Financial Services for the Poor; Maternal, Newborn, & Child Health; Polio; Vaccines Delivery; Water, Sanitation & Hygiene; and, Special Initiatives.

Dr. Elias’s professional background is in health and medicine, most recently having served as the president and CEO of PATH, an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of people around the world by advancing technologies, strengthening systems, and encouraging healthy behaviors. Elias currently serves on various advisory boards, including the Nike Foundation and the Duke Global Health Institute.

Dr. Elias holds an MD from Creighton University, having completed postgraduate training in internal medicine at the University of California San Francisco, and an MPH from the University of Washington. He was a fellow in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Creighton University.

Swaminathan3Professor M. S. Swaminathan has been acclaimed by TIME magazine as one of the 20 most influential Asians of the 20th century, alongside only two other Indians - Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. A plant geneticist by training, Prof. Swaminathan's contributions to the agricultural renaissance of India have earned him widespread recognition as the scientific leader of the green revolution movement, and he has been described by the United Nations Environment Programme as “the Father of Economic Ecology”. His advocacy of sustainable agriculture leading to an ever-green revolution makes him an acknowledged world leader in the field of sustainable food security. The International Association of Women and Development conferred on him the first international award for significant contributions to promoting the knowledge, skill, and technological empowerment of women in agriculture and for his pioneering role in mainstreaming gender considerations in agriculture and rural development.

Prof. Swaminathan boasts a long and distinguished career. He served as Director of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (1961-72), Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Secretary to the Government of India’s Department of Agricultural Research and Education (1972-79), Principal Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture (1979-80), Acting Deputy Chairman and later Member (Science and Agriculture), Planning Commission (1980-82), and Director General of the International Rice Research Institute (1982-88). More

Panel Chairs

MahabubDr. Mahabub Hossain joined BRAC as Executive Director in June 2007 and has been Advisor since January 2014. Prior to joining BRAC, he was Head of the Social Sciences Division at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines, and Coordinator of the Consortium for the Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE) in Asia. Dr. Hossain began his career in 1970 as a Staff Economist at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (former PIDE) and rose through the ranks to become its Director General during 1988-91. He also worked as a Visiting Scientist at the Institute of Developing Economies in Tokyo (1981), the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington DC (1985-87), and the Overseas Development Institute, London (1990).

Dr. Hossain received an MA in Economics from Dhaka University in 1969 and a Ph.D in Economics from Cambridge University in 1977. His major research interest is rural development policies. He has authored and co-authored 11 books and over 140 papers in refereed journals and edited books.

Dr. Hossain is a founding member of the North-South University Foundation, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Bangladesh Agriculture University and BRAC University. He also serves on the Program Advisory Committee of HarvestPlus, the Rice Advisory Council of the Syngenta Corporation for Asia and the Pacific, and the Global Knowledge Advisory Commission of the World Bank.

KyteRachel Kyte is World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change. She oversees work on climate change adaptation, mitigation, climate finance, and disaster risk and resilience across the institutions of the World Bank Group, including IBRD, IDA, IFC and MIGA.

The climate group is focused on ensuring that all Bank Group operations integrate climate change and take into account the opportunities that inclusive green growth presents. The group is also an advocate for global climate action.

Since November of 2011, Ms. Kyte also serves as Chair of the CGIAR Fund Council, a representative body of CGIAR Fund donors and other stakeholders of CGIAR, a global agricultural research partnership. The Fund Council is the decision-making body of CGIAR’s multi-donor trust fund.

Ms. Kyte previously served as World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development and was the International Finance Corporation Vice President for Business Advisory Services and a member of IFC's management team.

She is professor of practice in sustainable development at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She holds a master’s degree in international relations from Tufts University, and a bachelor’s degree in history and politics from the University of London.

ThurowRoger Thurow joined The Chicago Council on Global Affairs as senior fellow for global agricultural development in January 2010 after three decades at The Wall Street Journal. For 20 years, he served as a Journal foreign correspondent, based in Europe and Africa. His coverage of global affairs spanned the Cold War, the reunification of Germany, the release of Nelson Mandela, the end of apartheid, the wars in the former Yugoslavia and the humanitarian crises of the first decade of this century – along with 10 Olympic Games.

In 2003, he and Journal colleague Scott Kilman wrote a series of stories on famine in Africa that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. Their reporting on humanitarian and development issues was also honored by the United Nations. Thurow and Kilman are authors of the book, ENOUGH: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty.

In 2009, they were awarded Action Against Hunger’s Humanitarian Award. They also received the 2009 Harry Chapin Why Hunger book award.

In May 2012, Thurow published his second book, The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change.

He is currently working on his next book on the importance of nutrition in the 1,000 days.


Jeff_KoinangeJeff Koinange is host of the twice weekly popular talk show Jeff Koinange LIVE on Kenya Television Network (KTN). Mr. Koinange has previously served as Chief Anchor for Africa for Arise Television based in Johannesburg, and CNN’s Senior Africa Correspondent responsible for reporting from across the African continent.

In 2005 Mr. Koinange won a Television EMMY for his coverage of the devastating famine in Niger. Other awards include the George Foster PEABODY award for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina, and two Vernon Jarrett Bronze Medal awards for his coverage of rapes in the Congo and famine in Malawi. In 2008, Mr. Koinange was awarded the Moran of The Burning Spear (MBS), Kenya’s highest civilian honor, for his contribution to journalism in Kenya, Africa and beyond.