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COLLEGE STATION – Dr. Nicole Lefore has been named director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Small Scale Irrigation.
Also known as ILSSI, the lab is managed by the Norman E. Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University in College Station, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research. It partners with the International Water Management Institute, International Food and Policy Research Institute and International Livestock Research Institute.
ILSSI is one of 24 laboratories sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development and funded as cooperative agreements for research.
Lefore is replacing founding director Dr. Neville Clark, who will continue to guide ILSSI as a senior advisor. The lab was initially funded in 2013 for $12.3 million over five years and was extended for an additional five years with new funding of $22.3 million in 2018.
As director, Lefore will coordinate and implement the program and activities of the global research initiative.
“This innovation lab is helping continue to fulfill Dr. Norman Borlaug’s legacy of elevating small-holder farmers out of poverty and hunger through science,” said Dr. Elsa Murano, director of the Borlaug Institute.
“Texas A&M AgriLife is committed to creating an agriculture and food system that can nourish Texas and the world in the coming decades — carrying on Norman Borlaug’s legacy into the future — and projects such as ILSSI are core elements of our outreach,” said Dr. Patrick Stover, vice chancellor and dean for agriculture and life sciences at Texas A&M and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
Lefore has more than 20 years of international experience in research and management related to rural development, water and land natural resources, and supporting institutions and their capacity. She previously worked at the International Water Management Institute in South Africa as a project leader on the ILSSI program for the past five years.
“This is an exciting opportunity to join the Borlaug Institute and lead the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Small Scale Irrigation,” Lefore said. “I am grateful to join such an incredibly talented group at the Borlaug Institute and Texas A&M AgriLife. As a product of a farm myself, I feel a strong commitment to improve the livelihoods of small farmers around the world. There is no better time to do something that matters by contributing to solutions on some of the most urgent issues of our time – food, security, water and sustainability.”
ILSSI works with small-holder farmers in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana to develop farming systems that include the use of irrigation, especially in the long, dry season that occurs in these countries.
As a senior manager for research development, Lefore led several projects on irrigation in sub-Saharan Africa. Her work focused on institutions, policies and governance of water and land resources with more recent attention to gender and equality. Lefore also has an interest in capacity development and interdisciplinary research methods.
A native of rural Oregon, Lefore grew up on a family farm and then moved to Ghana on a Fulbright Fellowship. Her research focused on agricultural extension and decentralization.