Board of trustees

Michel Afram

Chairperson, Lebanon

Michel Afram is the Director General and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI). An agronomist by training, he is a specialist in agricultural education and policy and, amongst others, holds the positions of Deputy Director of the Global Association of Francophone Agricultural and Food Processing Universities, and Vice President of Confremo (conference of Francophone Universities and Institutions in the MENA region). Dr. Afram is also a member of the Lebanese Higher Agricultural Council, Professor at the School of Agriculture at Saint Joseph’s University, and a member of several Lebanese national committees pursuing improved agriculture and food production.

Dr. Afram is a recipient of the French Order of Academic Palms (Ordre des Palmes Academiques, 2016) for his work in teaching, scholarship and research. Dr Afram has received multiple other awards, including the Golden Award for Best Research and Practice from the European Society for Quality Research and the London-Oxford-Award for his research activities. Since 2018, Dr Afram has received various Bizz business excellence awards, including the Pinnacle of Success prize in 2021.

Neal Gutterson

Vice Chairperson, United States of America

Neal Gutterson’s life’s work is to create value for farmers. He does this through a combination of scientific and technological expertise, broad-based management and board experience and the ability to convert innovative ideas and thinking into results.

Neal joined DuPont Pioneer in 2014. After DuPont merged with Dow, he was named Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of the combined entity’s agriculture division, which was subsequently spun off and renamed Corteva Agriscience. There, he led the integration of three research and development organizations into one, developed the new company’s first integrated R&D strategy and oversaw the growth and expansion of its award-winning pipeline. While at Corteva, he championed and brought strategic clarity to the company’s efforts to use its expertise, intellectual property and technologies to address challenges facing small holder farmers globally.

Prior to joining Corteva, he held a number of senior roles with Mendel Biotechnology, rising from Vice President, R&D, to President, Chief Executive Officer and Board member. Earlier, he held a number of research roles with DNA Plant Technology Corporation. Throughout his career, he has used his knowledge of organizational design principles to forge collaborations with organizations of all sizes and stages of maturity. He also spent six years on the Board of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), along with a number of other associations. He holds a PhD in Biochemistry.

Aly Abousabaa

Ex Officio (ICARDA Director General), Egypt

Aly Abousabaa became ICARDA’s director general in October 2016. He brings 33 years of strategic leadership in sustainable development, operational and policy-based lending, and project management, spanning 35 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

As vice president of the African Development Bank, Abousabaa led the preparation and execution of the Bank’s key strategies. He was also in charge of resource mobilization and management of a US$ 11 billion portfolio in the areas of agriculture, water, natural resources management, climate change, infrastructure, women and youth, and governance, making transformational impact on the lives of millions of people in Africa.

He has an established global network of international partners on development, including the World Bank, the United Nations, European Union, African Union, bilateral agencies, such as GIZ, DFID, and NORAD, and non-governmental organizations.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Alexandria University, Egypt, and a master’s in civil engineering from Montana State University in the United States. 

Faouzi Bekkaoui

Morocco, Canada

Faouzi Bekkaoui is the Director of INRA Morocco. He was previously the Director of the Agriculture School and the coordinator of the AgroBioSciences Research program at the University Mohammed 6 Polytechnic (UM6P) Benguerir. Bekkaoui has also worked in the Wheat Improvement Flagship Program at NRC Canada 2012-2017, the NRC Plant Biotechnology Institute (PBI), ID Biomedical in the area DNA diagnostics, and Genome Prairie.  During his career, Faouzi has co-authored 38 peer-reviewed publications in the areas of DNA diagnostics, molecular biology, genomics, and plant physiology. He holds three U.S. patents involving DNA diagnostics.

Bekkaoui holds a Bachelor in Physiology from the University of Tours and a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from the University of Sorbonne (ex-Paris 6). 

Patrick Caron


Patrick Caron has a deep understanding of the interface between science and policy, and leadership experience in steering, negotiating and forging alliances across groups with diverging views and perspectives. He is currently Vice President for International Affairs at the University of Montpellier, where he guides scientific and technical personnel across departments and faculties to consolidate the international ambitions of a university with 50,000 students and 5,000 staff. He is also International Director of the Montpellier University of Excellence, an alliance of 16 regional research and higher education organizations, Director of MAK’IT, the Montpellier Institute for Advanced Knowledge, and President of Agropolis International, a community with 42 member institutions. He was recently appointed as a member of the Scientific Group for the 2021 UN Food System Summit.

He spent much of his earlier career with CIRAD, a French public institution active in agricultural research in over 100 countries, including six years as Director General for Research and Strategy. He served two terms as Chair of the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition, the science-policy interface of the UN Committee on World Food Security. He holds a PhD in Geography, a master’s in Food and Nutrition, a master’s in Public Health and a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. He is also a certified mediator.

Shenggen Fan


Shenggen Fan has extensive experience in developing strong connections at the highest levels with a wide range of influential stakeholders, and has engaged widely on issues related to agriculture, food, health, climate change, natural resource management and information technologies. He is currently Chair Professor at the College of Economics and Management at China Agricultural University in Beijing. He is a member of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition; the Advisory Council of the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford; the Board of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture; and the Council of Advisers of the World Food Prize. He also serves as a member of the Lead Group for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement appointed by the UN Secretary General.

He previously spent over 20 years with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), including as Director General for the ten-year period until his departure in December 2019. His previous roles within IFPRI included several years as Division Director of Development Strategy and Governance, and prior to that, as a Research Fellow. His earlier professional experience also includes time as a Research Economist in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at the University of Arkansas and as a Post-doctoral Fellow and Associate Research Officer at the International Service for National Agricultural Research in the Netherlands. He holds a PhD in Applied Economics and an MSc in Agricultural Economics.

Marco Ferroni


Marco Ferroni has wide-ranging experience accumulated during a career in corporate philanthropy, government, and multilateral organizations. He currently advises public, private, and social sector partners on agriculture, food systems and sustainable productivity growth. In addition to serving as Chair of the Board of the CGIAR System Organization, he is on the board of the Global Institute for Food Security at the University of Saskatchewan and recently completed terms as an Adjunct Professor in Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at McGill University.

From 2007 to 2017, he was Executive Director of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, a developer and incubator of scalable solutions for smallholder farmers in low-income countries and emerging markets. Prior to this, he was an Executive Director at the Inter-American Investment Corporation and a board member and Alternate Executive Director at the Inter-American Development Bank, where he also served as Deputy Manager of the Sustainable Development Department. He was also a Senior Advisor to the World Bank’s corporate focal point on funder relations, concessional resources and partnerships. Earlier in his career he was a development economist and trade diplomat in foreign economic affairs in his native Switzerland. He holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics.

He has served as Chair of the CGIAR System Board since his appointment in July 2017.

Fadlallah Gharzeldeen


Fadlallah Gharzeldeen is deputy head of planning affairs with the Planning and International Cooperation Commission of the Syrian Arab Republic. He has been with the commission since 1997. He has extensive experience in using macro-economic models as a planning tool to support Syria's economic and social development.

Garzaldeen holds a bacheler’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in general accounting from Damascus University.