icipe honours Dr Hans Herren

15 July 2018, Mbita Point, Kenya: icipe has honoured the Centre's former Director General, Dr Hans Rudolph Herren, for his enduring commitment to supporting the Centre's mission; and his vision of the role of science-led development for sustainable, socio-economic transformation in Africa. This recognition is denoted in the dedication of the main administration building block at icipe Thomas Odhiambo campus, Mbita Point, on the shores of Lake Victoria, to Dr Herren. Please see below, details of Dr Herren's contribution to icipe.

Dr Hans Rudolph Herren

Director General, icipe

22 August 1994 – 30 April 2005

Background

  • Dr Herren’s appointment as the Director General of icipe was preceded by a remarkable tenure at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), based in Nigeria, where he oversaw the cassava mealybug and green mite biological control programmes between 1979 and 1994.
  • Dr Herren used his extensive training in biological control, gained at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETHZ), and the University of California, Berkeley, USA, to implement a cassava mealy bug biocontrol strategy in a way that few people had considered before. He and his team reared millions of parasitic wasps and then used airplanes to release them over cassava fields, controlling this destructive pest and averting a serious food crisis that could have affected an estimated 20 million people. For this accomplishment, in 1995, Dr Herren was awarded the World Food Prize for the successful control of the cassava mealybug.
  • Dr Herren commenced leadership of icipe during a critical period of transition for the Centre marked by a significant decline in donor funding, and departure of the Centre’s Founding Director.  
  • Undaunted, he considered the prevailing challenges a chance to reinvent icipe and foresaw an even larger platform for sustainable development, along the following five thrusts.
  1. Staff /operational streamlining: Dr Herren recognised that for icipe to survive and thrive, a strong, more streamlined and more efficient staff was needed. Towards this goal, he took the following four key steps:
    • The first step was as brave as it was risky; that of a massive staff rationalisation.
    • Second, was the recruitment of a new generation of young scientists from across Africa and the globe, to re-energise the Centre.
    • Third, staff remuneration terms were improved, and contracting shifts introduced to ensure sustainability of employment in alignment to available funding, and to facilitate engagement of temporary staff, in compliance to increasing research and administrative needs.
    • The administrative and research structure of icipe was re-organised, thereby enhancing the Centre’s operations and, more importantly, enabling a creative space for researchers.
  2. International status for icipe: Dr Herren completed negotiations with the government of Kenya to regulate the establishment of icipe’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, leading to the signing of the Headquarters Agreement on 21st February 1995.
  3. New research paradigm: Dr Herren conceptualised the 4Hs paradigm, which emphasizes a holistic and integrated approach across human, animal, plant and environmental health, as the framework for a ‘new icipe’. The main idea was to link the 4Hs using insects as a common denominator, to create momentum and positive synergies to tackle the numerous developmental problems encountered by farmers and rural communities.
  4. Improved resource mobilisation: The success of Dr Herren’s efforts is notable in increased funding and partnerships to the Centre during his tenure.
  5. Research commercialisation: Dr Herren considered the survival of icipe, after more than a quarter of a century of intense research by the Centre, to be dependent on its ability to commercialise its research results. As such he initiated the icipe TechnoPark, to undertake large-scale production and marketing of icipe technologies, tools and strategies, entirely as a business venture. The icipe TechnoPark was envisioned to become a prime environment for innovation and entrepreneurial development with firm linkages with national and international R&D institutions and the private sector. Dr Herren’s idea laid the foundation for the commercialisation of icipe technologies, which has since been advanced by subsequent management.

Other contributions

Securing icipe’s unique legacy: Dr Herren recognised the role played by the Centre’s founding Director, Prof. Thomas Risley Odhiambo, and sought to secure his legacy, through the re-naming of the Centre’s conference hall at the headquarters in Duduville, Kasarani, Nairobi; and the Mbita Field Station on the shores of Lake Victoria. Both events were highly ceremonial, complete with intellectual engagement befitting of one of Africa’s most eminent scientists.

Continued support for icipe: In April 2005, Dr Herren completed his second term as icipe DG. Since his departure, Dr Herren has continued to support icipe, through Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development, which he founded using  resources from the World Food Prize. The vision of Biovision Foundation is to combat hunger and poverty, with a commitment to the dissemination and application of ecological methods. Biovision Foundation remains one of icipe’s key partners, collaborating in activities across all the Centre’s Themes.

Acknowledging Dr Hans Rudolph Herren’s contribution

For the accomplishments above; for his enduring commitment to supporting the mission of icipe; and for his vision of the role of science-led development for sustainable, socio-economic transformation in Africa, icipe is most delighted to dedicate this building, the main administration building block at icipe campus, Mbita Point, to Dr Hans R. Herren.