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Mark Holderness
Senior Consultant , Agriculture and rural development
Glasgow , United Kingdom
Strategic Director and thought-leader, transforming and strengthening agri-food innovation systems through innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development impact. Extensive senior management experience, 34 years in international development across 60 countries. Awarded 'Development Agriculturalist of the Year, 2018', for outstanding contribution to agricultural development.
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Area of Expertise:
  • Agriculture, Livelihoods, Microfinance, Rural
  • Capacity Building, Training, Advocacy, Political
  • Director, CEO, COP, President
Professional Experience:
2019 - present Senior Adviser, Agri-food innovation
Leveraging over 30 years of expertise and considerable industry knowledge as a thought-leader, consultant and advisor to international development organisations, agricultural research and academic institutes and the sector in general, with the development of programmes, publications, capacity development materials and thought-provoking media pieces.

2008-2018 Executive Secretary: Global Forum on Agricultural Research & Innovation (GFAR)
Inspired and led, at the UN Director level, a multi-stakeholder global forum of over 620 organisations, from farmers organisations to UN bodies. External evaluation of GFAR in 2018 showed that it had established a unique and much-valued role, with impacts demonstrated right through to significantly change in the institutions involved. Over 50% of the programme target outcomes agreed by members in the most recent Medium-Term Plan were significantly exceeded.
• Led the review and comprehensive reform of GFAR's governance, establishing an effective and uniquely valued governance mechanism engaging all sectors across agricultural research and innovation for development
• Fostered a revised vision and mission and established an ecosystem of 600 institutional partners across 13 different sectors, all committed to GFAR's objectives in transforming and strengthening agricultural innovation for development, at country, regional or global levels
• Organised, with the CGIAR, three successive Global Conferences on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD), involving 4,000 participants
• Produced the GCARD Road Map for Transforming and Strengthening Agricultural Research for Development, agreed by representatives of all sectors. External review of GCARD processes considered them extremely successful
• Drove strategic dialogues on agricultural innovation among the G20 and G7
• Mobilised the multi-stakeholder GFAR Steering Committee to design and deliver successive 4-year Medium-Term Plan cycles, catalysing the successful delivery of these programmes
• Maintained a vital balance and commitment among 620 organisations, from across all sectors
• Catalysed large-scale collective actions among public, private and civil actors around the world, addressing key themes in agri-food innovation for development, including; foresight/horizon scanning, transformative partnerships, capacity development, knowledge access and use, better investments and embedding research and innovation rural development processes

1990 – 2007 Centre for Agriculture & Biosciences International (CABI)
Strategic Director (Various)
Membership & Partnership Director (2005 – 2007), Director of Agriculture (2003 – 2005), Section Head: Crop & Pest Management (1999 – 2003), Deputy Head: Crop Protection (1990 – 1999)

CABI is a not for profit, intergovernmental organisation that improves people's lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment.
Progressively fulfilled a number of roles in the organisation, establishing personal expertise based on many years of practical field research, advisory and capacity development experience in sustainable crop and pest management, agrobiodiversity, invasive alien species and Sanitary/Phytosanitary Systems. Long experience in development of sustainable crop industry value chains and multi-stakeholder innovation platforms, including for cocoa, coffee, oil palm, rice and banana and in the development of underutilised crops

1985-1990 Papua New Guinea Cocoa & Coconut Research Institute Senior Plant Pathologist
Working as the national specialist in perennial crop diseases. Hands-on throughout the early years in analysis and research to improve cocoa and coconut crops.
University of Reading, UK PhD (1985) Plant disease epidemiology
University of Reading, UK BSc (Hons) Horticultural Botany
Affiliations and Achievements:
Tropical Agriculture Association Development Agriculturalist of the Year, 2018, for an outstanding contribution to agricultural development
Available for:
  • Consulting assignments
  • Job opportunities
  • Being headhunted – make me an offer

    Years of Experience:
    More than 20 years
    Highest Qualification:
    English, French, Italian, PNG Tok Pisin
    United Kingdom
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