Dr. Rakesh Kumar Singh is Program Leader on Crop Diversification and Genetics and Principal Scientist at the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) based in Dubai, the UAE. A plant breeder by training, he has a long and successful career in plant breeding with a specific interest in abiotic stresses. From 2005 until his appointment at ICBA, Dr. Singh had worked as Senior Rice Breeder at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). In this capacity, he led IRRI’s global program on breeding for salinity tolerance and problem soils. He had also served as a regional plant breeding coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa between 2009 and 2012, leading research on rice-based agriculture. In 2012-2018, he managed breeding research on rainfed lowlands for Southeast Asia, as well as rice breeding programs for problem soils, from IRRI’s headquarters in Los Baños, the Philippines. He also supervised 14 post-doctoral fellows, 7 PhD and 8 MSc students, and trained numerous researchers from different countries. During this period, he served as an adjunct professor of plant breeding and genetics at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). While at IRRI, Dr. Singh led many major projects related rice breeding for salinity tolerance. Before his tenure at IRRI, he worked at the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in Karnal, India, from 1986 to 2008 in various capacities. Dr. Singh is a recipient of many national and international honors and awards, including Fellow of the Agricultural Academy of India, the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences; Fellow of the Indian Society of Coastal Agricultural Research; Fellow of the Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding; National Honor for Outstanding Service to the Nation by the Government of India for the development of the first sodicity-tolerant rice variety ‘Basmati CSR30’; IRRI Philippines Semi-Annual Team Awards (SATA) - 2013 for Salinity Breeding Team; Hari Om Ashram National Agriculture Award from ICAR for the improvement of rice productivity in salt-affected areas in India; and PARRFI Research and Development Award to MAGIC Team, IRRI (as a founding member of the rice MAGIC team) by the Los Baños Science Community Foundation, the Philippines. Throughout his career, Dr. Singh has been instrumental in the development and commercial release of more than 30 rice varieties in South and Southeast Asia (India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines), and eastern Africa (Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya). He has published more than 110 research articles in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and books cited more than 3300 times. He has extensive international experience and has visited more than 50 countries and built partnerships with several hundred research institutes and organizations. In his current role, Dr. Singh leads a research team working on developing suitable cropping solutions for marginal environments (saline water and soil, drought and heat). This work targets such regions as the Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and more recently South and Southeast Asia. His research interests focus on climate-resilient crops for food and feed, including quinoa, amaranth, barley, pearl millet, safflower, date palm, and Salicornia.
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