Rob Groot, director of IFDC’s East and Southern Africa Division (ESAFD), has more than 25 years of experience in international agricultural development, particularly relating to food security problems in Sub-Saharan Africa. Groot’s management, communications and acquisition skills led to the expansion of IFDC projects in Africa. He was previously the director of IFDC’s Africa Division from 2004 until it was divided into the ESAFD and the North and West Africa Division (NWAFD) in 2009. He has been involved in several research initiatives involving soil fertility improvement, fertilizer use and climate change. Prior to joining IFDC, Groot served as executive secretary of the Plant Sciences Group of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. There, he participated in the successful acquisition of the National Genomics Project, a $200 million public-private partnership. Prior to that service, he was responsible for the External Affairs and Strategic Planning Institute for Agrobiology and Soil Fertility Research at Wageningen.
Groot has managed several international projects including those focusing on the impact of climate change on water availability and food security in semiarid regions, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. From 1991 to 1995, he was manager for the Optimal Nutrient Use in Animal Husbandry Systems Project in Mali, a four-year multidisciplinary research project with a $6 million budget. After two years as manager of the overall project, Groot concentrated on coordinating research activities in Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM). He was project manager/researcher for the Institute for Soil Fertility Research (IB-DLO) from 1988 to 1991. Groot has more than 40 publications to his credit. He earned a master’s degree in biology and agronomy from Wageningen University. He also completed a one-year, master’s-level training program in business administration for managers of small- and medium-sized enterprises and government organizations at Wageningen.