IICA Honors Dr. Rattan Lal with the Title of Chair in Soil Science and Goodwill Ambassador

July 13, 2020
Lloyd Day, Deputy Director General of IICA, and Manuel Otero, Director General of the Institute, symbolically presented Lal with the titles during a virtual ceremony.

Dr. Lal is honored and humbled to have been awarded the title of Chair in Soil Science and Goodwill Ambassador by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture on the 20th of July, 2020. He looks forward to developing a deep relationship and strong programs to promote the importance of soil health and quality throughout the Americas and to support farmers and agronomists throughout the region so that they may harvest healthy, nutritious crops in harmony with the environment and especially the soils on which all life depends. 

From IICA's website

San José, 20 July 2020 (IICA). Scientist Rattan Lal, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the World Food Prize 2020, has been awarded the title of Goodwill Ambassador of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in sustainable development issues, and was awarded the title of IICA Chair in Soil Science, due to his contribution to and research in protecting the health of this resource, essential for agriculture, food security and the health of all living beings.

The distinctions were awarded by IICA's Director General, Manuel Otero, in a virtual ceremony featuring the participation of the Ministers de Agriculture from Barbados, Indar Weir; from Chile, Antonio Walker; from Costa Rica, Renato Alvarado; and the administrator of the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, Ken Isley, on behalf of the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States, Sonny Perdue,

Gil Latz, Vice Provost for Global Strategies and International Affairs of Ohio State University; Barbara Stinson, president of the World Food Prize Foundation; and Kip Tom, US Ambassador to the UN Agencies in Rome, also participated in the meeting.

Otero praised the work, commitment and efforts made by the prestigious professor of Soil Sciences and Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center of Ohio State University to preserve soil health.

''I will always humbly serve as IICA Ambassador for soil health. Without soil, there is no life, and without life there is no soil; they have evolved together. The goal is to produce more with less, and in order to manage the soil more sustainably, we must apply ancestral wisdom combined with modern knowledge'' stated Lal, the mentor of 112 post-graduate students and 190 visiting academics from all over the world.

''When people suffer from poverty, despair and hunger, they pass on this suffering to the land. Love, business, family, religion, art and patriotism are hollow words when humans are dying of hunger'', added the respected scientist and newly appointed IICA Ambassador.

Ambassador Tom, on the other hand, congratulated ''Dr. Lal for his impressive career, and IICA and its Director General, Manuel Otero, for their commitment and for being a role model for agricultural development and the fight for food security in the world''.

Agricultural authorities, on the other hand, called attention to the global influence of Dr. Lal's work in soil protection, which benefits productivity and the environment.

Isley, in representation of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Purdue, congratulated Lal for the distinction and stated that: ''Innovation must be an international effort involving public and private partnerships, with organizations such as IICA and the World Food Prize. We highly value our relationship with IICA and hope to renew it in person soon''.

The Ministers of Barbados, Chile and Costa Rica expressed similar views.

''Dr. Lal's contributions benefit us all. In the Caribbean, we are grateful for IICA's commitment in leveraging the knowledge produced by this scientist to care for the health of our soils'', stated Minister Weir, from Barbados.

''The tribute paid by IICA to Dr. Lal is more than deserved; he is a person who has dedicated his life to research and has taught us the meaning of regenerative agriculture'', stated Minister Walker.

Moreover, Minister Alvarado, from Costa Rica, declared that ''IICA's acknowledgement of Dr. Lal is commendable; his work has also had an impact on soil protection in Costa Rica''.

The president of the World Food Prize Foundation praised Ratan Lal's determination to increase food production by using fewer resources, with a view to protecting and restoring the soils. ''I cannot imagine a more suitable person to represent IICA in the search for these objectives'', she added.


Lloyd Day, Deputy Director General of IICA, and Manuel Otero, Director General of the Institute, symbolically presented Lal with the titles during a virtual ceremony. 

Gil Latz, from Ohio State University, highlighted the humble nature of Dr. Lal, by stating that ''in spite of all his publications and wide recognition, he is a very accessible person, always supportive of his students in their research. We are deeply honored that IICA has chosen a rock star from our university for this distinction''.

The Director General of IICA explained that ''we wish to show our gratitude to Rattan Lal on behalf of more than 500 million people who have benefitted from his research'', and added that ''in his honor, we are renewing our determination to protect the soil, by launching a program to protect, preserve, remediate and restore the soils of the Americas''.

About IICA Chairs

The IICA Chair Program was created under the conviction that agriculture must foster opportunities and progress, and to recognize contributions made in specific fields of study, by promoting and stimulating the production of new knowledge on agriculture and rural development in the American continent.

IICA Goodwill Ambassadors

The Goodwill Ambassadors share the same concerns and commitment to achieve sustainable and equitable development. They also take up the challenge of joining causes that seek to increase public awareness and promote development through projects related to food security, bioeconomy, gender and youth relations, and responsible production, all of which are key issues on the IICA agenda.