This is a role that recognizes that 75% of the world's extremely poor people live in the rural areas and are dependent on agriculture, and so the best way to overcome poverty is to make farming profitable. The recognition was conferred to him by the ICRISAT director-general Dr William Dar at the annual Crawford Fund Parliamentary Conference on food security.
As an ICRISAT Ambassador of Goodwill, Mr Kerin has agreed to champion the need for science-based solutions for farming in the fight against poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation.
"I'm very pleased to take on the role as an ICRISAT Ambassador of Goodwill, to help support their important work. I well-remember my visit to ICRISAT in India some years back. Not only does their research improve the lives of the poor, it is also helping farmers in Australia," said Mr Kerin.
"We cannot be any prouder of all our Ambassadors of Goodwill, who include Mr Bill Gates and Prof MS Swaminathan," said Dr Dar.
"The drylands are also the producers of the new Smart Foods - foods that are not only good for you but also good for the environment because of their low usage of water and other inputs, as well as being lifesavers for the rural poor who have few other options. Crops like millets are less known but are hailed to be the next quinoa and the new Smart Food," Dr Dar continued.
"Through our Ambassadors, we can further spread the word on crops like millets and legumes that have triple benefits of being highly nutritious, good for the planet, and play an important role in overcoming poverty and malnutrition in poor areas," he added.
John Kerin is the Chair of the Crawford Fund, a non-profit non-government organization that works to raise awareness of the benefits to Australia and to developing countries from international agricultural research. He has been the national Minister for Primary Industries (1983-1987), Minister for Primary Industries and Energy (1987-1991), Minister for Transport and Communications (1991), Minister for Trade and Overseas Development (1991-1993), and Treasurer (1991).
The ICRISAT Ambassadors of Goodwill program was launched in May 2013 with the acceptance of Mr Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to become the first Ambassador during his visit to the ICRISAT global headquarters.
Mr Bill Gates has since been joined by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, renowned scientist and 11th President of India; Rt. Hon. James Bolger, former Prime Minister of New Zealand; Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nigeria; Dr Nigel Poole, former Chair, ICRISAT Governing Board; Professor MS Swaminathan, renowned agricultural scientist and Father of India's Green Revolution; and Ms Saina Nehwal, Olympic medalist, ace badminton player and youth icon of India, as ICRISAT Ambassadors.
Dr Dar is an invited speaker at this year's Crawford Fund conference, an annual event which holds a key place in the development and food security calendar in Australia. This year's theme "Ethics, Efficiency and Food Security: Feeding The 9 Billion, Well" focused on a range of vital issues facing the developing world and Australia in efforts to produce more food in an ethical and efficient way.
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