Rwanda’s Gérardine Mukeshimana, a distinguished scientist and politician who served as Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources from July 2014 until March 2, 2023, has achieved yet another remarkable milestone in her career. She has been appointed as the Vice President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to combating global food insecurity and promoting sustainable agricultural development.
Gérardine Mukeshimana’s journey to this prestigious position is marked by outstanding academic achievements and significant contributions to agricultural research and development. Born on December 10, 1970, in present-day Huye District, Mukeshimana pursued her passion for agriculture, obtaining an agricultural engineering degree from the National University of Rwanda. She continued her academic pursuits, earning a master’s degree in 2001 and a Ph.D. in biotechnology from Michigan State University in 2013. Her doctoral thesis, titled “Dissecting the Genetic Complexity of Drought Tolerance Mechanisms in Common Bean (Phaseolus Vulgaris L.),” showcased her commitment to finding innovative solutions to address agricultural challenges.
In recognition of her exceptional contributions, Mukeshimana was awarded the 2012 Board for International Food and Agriculture Development (BIFAD) Student Award for Scientific Excellence. Her groundbreaking work in Rwanda’s bean breeding program has left a lasting impact on agricultural practices and food security in the region.
Before assuming the position of Vice President of IFAD, Mukeshimana held several pivotal roles in academia and international development. As a lecturer in the Faculty of Agriculture at the National University of Rwanda, she shared her knowledge and expertise with the next generation of agricultural professionals. Additionally, she played a crucial role as a coordinator for the World Bank’s Rural Sector Support Project, contributing to the implementation of vital initiatives in rural areas.
In 2013, Mukeshimana further expanded her horizons, becoming a part of the research team at the BecA Hub, a renowned biosciences facility at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi. Her collaboration in cutting-edge research projects demonstrated her commitment to leveraging science and technology for the advancement of agriculture.
Appointed as Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources in the cabinet of Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi in July 2014, Mukeshimana spearheaded transformative initiatives in Rwanda’s agricultural sector. Her dedication and impactful contributions to the nation’s agricultural growth earned her the continued trust of President Paul Kagame, who retained her in her ministerial position during a cabinet reshuffle in May 2016 and again on August 31, 2017.
Notably, in June 2016, Mukeshimana hosted the 7th African Agriculture Science Week and General Assembly of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in Kigali. The event resulted in a significant six-point call to action, aiming to achieve the ambitious “Africa Feed Africa” initiative, further underscoring her commitment to tackling food security challenges on a regional scale.
Beyond her hands-on involvement in the field, Mukeshimana has contributed valuable research to the scientific community through her publications. Her work, including “Identification of Shoot Traits Related to Drought Tolerance in Common Bean Seedlings” and “Quantitative Trait Loci Associated with Drought Tolerance in Common Bean,” has been recognized and acknowledged by leading academic institutions.
The appointment of Gérardine Mukeshimana as Vice President of IFAD reflects not only her exceptional accomplishments but also the organization’s commitment to recognizing and harnessing the expertise of eminent individuals in advancing its goals. IFAD, a significant outcome of the 1974 World Food Conference, continues to be a driving force in combating global food shortages and uplifting vulnerable rural communities. Since its establishment in 1977, IFAD has successfully funded and supported projects that have positively impacted millions of people worldwide.
As Gérardine Mukeshimana assumes her new role, the international community can anticipate continued strides in agricultural development and food security, driven by her visionary leadership and dedication to making a difference in the lives of millions. Her appointment as Vice President of IFAD marks a significant chapter in her illustrious career, and the world eagerly awaits the transformative impact she will undoubtedly make in this critical role.