GCHERA (Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences) is pleased to Announce the Laureates of the 2021 World Agriculture Prize, Emeritus Professor Marc Van Montagu of Ghent University and Professor Mitiku Haile of Makelle University in recognition of their outstanding achievements in agriculture and life science education and scientific research.
The award ceremony will take place on 21 June 2022 and will be transmitted virtually from Nanjing Agricultural University, the People’s Republic of China.
A profile statement of Professor Mitiku Haile:
Dr. Mitiku Haile is Professor of Soil Science and Sustainable Land Management in the College of Dryland Agriculture and Natural Resources (CoDANR) of Mekelle University and the Founding Father and First
President of Mekelle University, Tigray, Ethiopia. He was the Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies from 1988 to 1991, and Academic Vice President from 1992 to 1993 of then Alemaya University (currently Haramaya University).
In 1993 he was appointed Dean of the newly established College of Dryland Agriculture and Natural Resources at Mekelle where he began with a meeting under a Faidherbia albida tree, locally known as “Momona”, leading to three BSc programs and 42 students. He later transformed the College into a University College and eventually into Mekelle University serving as its first President from the year 2000 to 2011. From July 2011 to November 2015, he served as Ethiopia’s Deputy Permanent Delegate to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He received his BSc in Plant Sciences and M.Sc. in Agronomy from Addis Ababa University, Alemaya in 1980 and 1983 respectively and his PhD in Soil Science and Land Evaluation from Ghent University in 1988.
Dr. Mitiku has spent over 30 years in leadership positions in higher education in Ethiopia and is recognized for contributions to building educational institutions, human capacity development,
and his dedication, and impact on the sustainable development of the Tigray Region of Ethiopia
and beyond. His greatest achievement is the founding of Mekelle University and its impact on
the development of his country under his leadership.
As stated in the recommendation letter by Dr. Zeray Alemseged, Donald N. Pritzker Professor of Organismal Biology & Anatomy, University of Chicago “Professor Mitiku pioneered the birth and expansion of Mekelle University shepherding the institution from its modest beginnings as college of Dryland Agriculture and Natural Resources to what is today a prominent Ethiopian university enrolling over 30,000 students. In addition to his leadership activities, he has also been heavily involved in teaching and mentoring students including PhD and postdoctoral research fellows.” From the time of its creation, Dr. Mitiku’s vision and leadership were critical in Mekelle University’s growth and impact as they began with little resources. As explained by Dr. Alemseged, ‘I asked Prof. Mitiku how he was going to run the university with pretty much no resources.