Dr. Namanga Ngongi, a Cameroonian agronomist, is president of the Nairobi-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Early in his career, Ngongi worked with village farmers for Cameroon’s Ministry of Agriculture. He motivated farmers to grow new crops such as yams and plantains, and worked to help them control plant-damaging pests. Later, collaborating with the Government of Ghana and Cornell University, he headed a joint soils research project aimed at ensuring sustained production of basic food crops across the country’s agro-ecological zones. He supervised the establishment of rural development institutions and agro-industrial enterprises in Cameroon.
Ngongi began his international service with the Cameroon Embassy in Rome, where he played an active role in key committees of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
He joined the WFP in 1984, heading operational activities in 17 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, and addressing the populations’ needs after the devastating droughts in Ethiopia, Sudan and the Sahel.
In 2001, Ngongi became Under-Secretary-General of the UN and head of the organisation’s peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
As special representative of the UN Secretary-General, Ngongi managed a mission comprised of 6,000 troops from seven countries and a civilian staff of over 1,500 from more than 60 countries. He organised several local peace negotiations between warring factions in the midst of fighting, hunger and disease, while working to deliver humanitarian aid. His efforts are credited with contributing significantly to the overall success of the peace negotiations as well as the formation of a transitional government in the DRC.
Ngongi retired from the UN in 2003. Since his retirement from the UN in 2003, Dr Ngongi has undertaken several high-level missions, including a study on food reserve systems in Africa and coordination of an international conference on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in Sierra Leone. He has been President of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) since its founding in 2006.
Born in Buea, Cameroon, in 1945, Ngongi earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
He earned masters and doctorate degrees in agronomy from Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y. Ngongi went on to earn a postgraduate certificate in agricultural and rural development project planning from the University of Bradford, in the United Kingdom.