Speaking at a forum recently, Director General of IICA Victor M. Villalobos stated that the Caribbean – including Barbados – can become the world’s food basket, citing the region has key features which make it a key production area.
Dr. Víctor M. Villalobos is a Mexican professional specializing in the fields of agriculture, natural resources and genetics. He enjoys a high professional reputation and is well known in the countries of the region for the large number of activities he has carried out. He has a varied curriculum vitae, having worked as a full professor, researcher, research director, international official, government official, administrator, negotiator, and leader of multidisciplinary groups on analysis and decision making.
In the course of his long career, in which he has held a number of senior management and technical positions, he has made major contributions and supported innovation in the areas of plant production and the conservation of genetic and natural resources.
In 1976, he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Agronomy at the National School of Agriculture in Chapingo, Mexico; in 1979, he obtained his Master of Sciences in Plant Genetics at the Graduate College of Chapingo; and in 1983 he obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada (he wrote his thesis on Plant Morphogenesis).
As a public servant, Dr. Villalobos has been appointed two times by the Mexican President as Undersecretary in the Federal Government, the first time as Natural Resources Undersecretary for the Secretariat of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries (SEMARNAP), and the second time, as Agriculture Undersecretary for the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA).
Dr. Villalobos has also been involved with international technical cooperation organizations. He was the Director of the Agriculture Division (1986-1990) in the Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE). He also served as Director of the Biotechnology Unit (1990-1995) and President of the Board of Directors (1999-2003) of CATIE.
As a researcher, Dr. Villalobos has encouraged the development of agro-biotechnology as a tool for increasing agricultural production and food security in Mexico and worldwide. Based on his work, he has published two books as the main author: Contribution of Tissue Culture to Plant Improvement and Conservation (1982); and Transgenic Plants: Opportunities and Threats (2007). He has also had over 70 scientific articles and chapters published in prestigious international journals and books.
In Mexico, Dr. Villalobos has served as a professor for undergraduate and graduate programs at the Autonomous University of Chapingo (UACh); the Graduate College in Agriculture Sciences (COLPOS); and the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (CINVESTAV). Internationally, he has been an instructor at CATIE and given specialized courses in Argentina, Austria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Jordan, Iran and Venezuela, among other countries. He has also been the major professor for eleven graduate students (nine master’s and two doctoral degree students).
Dr. Villalobos has received very important and distinguished awards for his outstanding scientific and academic contributions. He has been a member Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry since 2004 and in the same year he received an honorary doctorate from CATIE. He has also been a member of the “Scoping Team” of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), of the Science and Technology Commission of the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) of Mexico, and of the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS). In 1995, the President of Mexico awarded Dr. Villalobos the diploma for meritorious service to agriculture, for his work on biotechnology applied to agriculture in international organizations. He is Professor Ad Honorem for the Graduate College of Chapingo and distinguished alumni of the Autonomous University of Chapingo.
Dr. Víctor M. Villalobos was sworn in as the tenth Director General of the Inter-American
Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) at a ceremony held on January 15, 2010 at the organization’s Headquarters in Costa Rica. In September 2013, the Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA), the Institute’s highest governing body, elected him to serve a second term (2014-2018).
On August 20, 2013, he received an honorary doctorate from the Universidad Nacional de Asunción, in Paraguay, for his outstanding contributions to the agricultural sector.
On January 20, 2015, in La Paz, Bolivia, the Association of Agronomists and Agricultural Science Professionals of Bolivia (CIAB) presented him with the “Espiga Dorada” Merit of Honor medal for his distinguished services to that country’s agricultural sector, and also granted him honorary membership of the Association.