Abdelbagi Ismail

Regional Director, Africa International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

Dr. Ismail has more than 30 years of experience in research for development. His research focuses on crop improvement to enhance adaptation to less favorable environments and to increase resilience to climate change using modern research tools, especially for areas affected by floods, salt stress, drought, and nutrient deficiencies and toxicities. His work contributed to understanding of physiological and molecular mechanisms associated with tolerance of several abiotic stresses in crops and for developing stress-tolerant varieties and management systems; and delivery to farmers through effective seed systems involving public and private sector partners, in both Asia and Africa. He developed and led several regional projects on breeding and delivery of high yielding, climate resilient varieties, through building and coordinating large networks of research and development partners.


Dr. Ismail worked for 18 years in Asia running projects across South and Southeast Asia. Now he is stationed in Kenya as the Director of IRRI- Africa since 2018, covering all rice growing countries in Africa. He developed and ran several large projects across Asia and Africa, including the “Stress Tolerant Rice for Africa and Asia (STRASA)”, involving 18 countries in Africa and 3 countries in Asia. He also supervised 30 PhD and 20 MSc students, most from Asian and African countries.


Dr. Ismail received several honours for his work: in Vietnam (Merit medal “for the Cause of Science and Technology development”; 2010; and “Gold Medal for “Contribution to Agriculture Development” 2017) and in Cambodia (Certificate of Appreciation for inspiring leadership and strong support for the accelerated development of high yielding rice varieties suitable for Cambodia; 2017). Fellow American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Fellow, (foreign), National Academy of Agricultural sciences, India, and member, Research,  Variety  Development  and  Seed