For more than 30 years, Mahmud Duwayri has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of people in developing countries by advancing the field of agriculture. Mahmud served as Jordan’s Minister of Agriculture (2001-2002), in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (1998-2001), and in various academic posts, including department chair, dean, and vice president at universities in Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. In these capacities, Mahmud has led regional and international efforts in agriculture development and policy, emphasizing natural resources management and sustainable agriculture.
”I was born in a village in Jordan where life was hard, no electricity and no sanitary water,” he explains. ”I received a scholarship to attend one of the best universities in the region, the American University of Beirut. I have traveled around the world extensively and seen the suffering of many people in many communities, and I realize that more than 800 million people in the world are hungry and suffer from malnutrition; a lot more are unemployed. I have always been determined to extend assistance to help potential candidates have opportunities similar to mine, and would like to help others benefit from the progress available in the world today.”
To this end, Mahmud has made a number of inroads. As a member of the higher education reform team in his country, he has helped build the Department of Agriculture at the University of Jordan into one of the top institutions in the region. He also helped found the National Center for Agriculture Research and Technology Transfer, an agricultural research center.
During the past two years, Mahmud led a project to improve cereal production in Jordan, working with an international cadre of researchers, agencies, and funders. The project proved a successful model for bringing together a cooperative of stakeholders to improve a regional agricultural system.
”It has been always my perspective that bilateral and international cooperation are essential for development,” he says.
”I tend to measure my own impact by following the successes of my students who have taken up leadership positions in Jordan and other countries,” he says. Mahmud also recognizes the success of his efforts as farmers in the field adopt the research results and recommendations resulting from his work.
Mahmud frequently advises his students and colleagues: ”The world relies on inspired leaders in our field, because making food available, alleviating poverty, and improving the livelihood of the poor is a noble cause worth our commitment.” [1-05]