Director of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)
Govaerts is renowned for pioneering, implementing, and inspiring transformational changes for farmers and consumers in meeting the sustainable development challenges. He brings together multi-disciplinary science and development teams to integrate sustainable, multi-stakeholder and sector strategies that generate innovation and change in agri-food systems. His initiatives, excellence in science for impact and the partnerships he inspired have resulted in improved nutrition, nature conservation, and national and international resilience and food security.
His work is geared toward transforming subsistence agriculture and failed farming systems into productive and sustainable production units, and has worked in countries like Ethiopia, India and Mexico. Together with a group of scientists, trainers, extension agents, collaborative farmers and communications and technology specialists, Govaerts developed a vision inspired by Norman Borlaug’s motto “Take it to the Farmer”: combining the right seed with the right conservation agriculture production practice embedded in an integrated market while recognizing and integrating farmer knowledge.
Govaerts holds a PhD in Bioscience Engineering – Soil Science, a master’s degree in Soil Conservation and Tropical Agriculture, and a bachelor’s degree in Bioscience Engineering, all from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.
In 2003, Govaerts received the Development Cooperation Prize from the Belgian Federal Government. In 2014 he was awarded the Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application — endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation and awarded by the World Food Prize — for the development of sustainable agricultural systems. In 2018 he received the Premio Tecnoagro, awarded by an organization of 2,500 Mexican farmers. He is a member of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. In 2020, Govaerts was elected as Fellow by The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) for his outstanding contributions to the field of agronomy.