Rutgers professor receives Service Award from AIARD

06/07/04

Dr. Carl Pray, professor of agriculture, food and resource economics at Rutgers' Cook College, has been selected by the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development (AIARD) as the recipient of their 2004 Special Service Award.

AIARD makes its Special Service Award to recognize special efforts or significant contributions to the achievement of AIARD's goals and objectives. Candidates are chosen for demonstrating a career-long commitment to international agriculture and rural development initiatives and significant contributions to international agriculture and rural development through research, teaching, practice, service, or leadership. Recipients are not members of AIARD.

"We are very pleased that AIARD has chosen to recognize Dr. Pray's impressive contributions to global development and the considerable global visibility that his research has given to our international programs at Cook College," says Acting Executive Dean Keith R. Cooper.

Pray has extensive international experience, beginning in 1970 when he worked as a Peace Corp Volunteer in Rajasthan, India. During his Ph.D. program in Economic History at the University of Pennsylvania, he focused on the development of the agricultural research, extension and education system of Northern India and Pakistan before and after Independence. He then put this knowledge to work in the international agriculture and rural development field as research associate with the Agricultural Development Council Inc., at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) from 1978 to 1980 and then on the Asian Agricultural Research Project at the University of Minnesota's Agricultural and Applied Economics Department from 1980 to 1985.

When Pray joined Rutgers in 1986, he was among the first faculty at Rutgers to have specific international responsibilities for research on agriculture and rural development policy. He became a full member of the Graduate Faculty of the Department of Economics at Rutgers in 1987 and is currently a Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food & Resource Economics and head of the Graduate program in Agricultural Economics.

Pray's early research and outreach activities focused on improving the efficiency of investments in public sector agricultural research in Asia. His research documented the large benefits from agricultural research and need for greater investment in agricultural research. This provided the justification for The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank and Asian governments to increase their investments in this important area of development.

In the early 1980s, Pray started to focus his research on agricultural research financed by the private sector. His research for the U.S. Agency for International Development on Asian private sector agricultural research at the University of Minnesota and then Rutgers, and several consulting assignments for USAID and the World Bank, helped speed the liberalization of the South Asian seed industry during that period. This research also led to assignments advising the Russian government on seed policy for the World Bank and the Chinese government on how to privatize their seed industry.

In the late 1990s his work on the commercialization of the public agricultural research in China had some influence on the latest round of reforms of the Chinese agricultural research system. His more recent contributions are in the area of documenting the impact of biotechnology on small farmers in developing countries and understanding the policies that are influencing the adoption of biotechnology. Pray and his colleagues published a paper in Science in 2002 documenting the Chinese investment in biotechnology and the impact of that investment on small farmers. This article appears to have influenced the decision of India and perhaps other developing countries to approve the use of Bt cotton as a safe and sensible alternative to conventional cotton.

In 1999, the China Ministry of Agriculture honored Pray and his research colleagues with the Award for Outstanding Scientific Progress on Agricultural R&D Policy Study. Also in 1999, the Rockefeller Foundation awarded Pray with the leadership position of a Team Residency at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center on Chinese agricultural research. He was also selected as Visiting Fellow at the Economic Growth Center, Yale University from 1992 to 1993. He is currently a member of the Cook College & the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station International Programs Steering Committee and chairs the International Seminar Series.

AIARD members are from universities, private voluntary organizations, consulting companies, trade associations, private firms, national and international agencies and foundations in every state in the union. Their members have dedicated their careers to alleviating world hunger and advancing international agriculture and rural development.

The award ceremony will take place today in Washington D.C.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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