The World Food Prize Foundation

2021 Borlaug Dialogue Speakers

H.E. Víctor Manuel Villalobos Arámbula

Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mexico

Dr. Villalobos is an expert with more than 40 years of experience in the areas of Agronomy, Agricultural Economics, and Environmental Sciences. An Agricultural Engineer with a major in Plant Breeding from the National School of Agriculture (ENA, by its Spanish acronym), he got an MSc in Vegetal Genetics from the Colegio de Postgraduados, Chapingo, and a Ph.D. In Vegetal Morphogenesis from the University of Alberta, Canada.

In 2010, Dr. Villalobos was elected Director-General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), a specialized organism of the Organization of American States (OAS) based in Costa Rica. He was the first Mexican to be elected to the position, holding it during two 4-year periods.

Dr. Villalobos has held several senior official posts in the Government of Mexico. He was Undersecretary of Natural Resources at the Secretariat of the Environment, Natural Resources, and Fisheries (SEMARNAP), Undersecretary of Agriculture at the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Food, and Fisheries (SAGARPA), as well as General Coordinator of International Affairs at the latter.

His trajectory also includes relevant positions at international organizations. He has worked as Principal Officer in Biotechnology at the U. N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, Italy, and Director of the Program of Tropical Crop Improvement at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE, by its Spanish acronym) in Costa Rica. 

In recognition of Dr. Villalobos’ research and teaching contributions to the fields of biotechnology, vegetal production, and preservation of genetic and natural resources, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (2004); he was awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa from CATIE, Costa Rica (2004); Doctorate Honoris Causa from the University of Asuncion, Paraguay (2013); and the “Golden Spike” Merit Recognition from the College of Agricultural Engineers and Agricultural Sciences Practitioners of Bolivia (CIAB), La Paz, Bolivia (2015).

Dr. Villalobos is an ad honorem Professor at the Colegio de Postgraduados, where he has taught diverse subjects at the graduate level. He was Director of the Irapuato campus of the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), a place where he also was part of the teaching body. 

At the international level, he has taught at CATIE and delivered specialized courses in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela, Austria, Jordan, and Iran. He has been part of high-level consulting bodies in the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the Science and Technology Commission of the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT), and at The University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC-MEXUS).

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