Belay Ejigu Begashaw joined the Earth Institute of Columbia University in January 2009 as Senior Agriculture Policy Specialist for Eastern and Southern Africa. He became director of The MDG Centre in August 2009 and he also serves as associate director of the Earth Institute's Tropical Agriculture and Rural Development Program. He has over 20 years of experience in agriculture extension and rural development, ranging from a grass-roots development agent to the Minister of Agriculture for Ethiopia. During his tenure as Minister of Agriculture, Ethiopia established the coalition for food security strategy, the National Extension and Transformation Program, the safety net program which support millions of farmers living in chronic to transitory food deficit situation, the Technical Vocational Education and Training Program, a strategy for commercializing smallholders agriculture and institutional reform of the agriculture knowledge system. In the past three years, Begashaw has done extensive consulting work for several international organizations in the area of food security, poverty reduction and investment.
Begashaw earned his MPA degree from Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, M.Sc. from University of Reading and a B.Sc. from Addis Ababa University, Almay College of Agriculture. He holds a Ph.D. in agricultural policy from Texas A&M University where he was a Borlaug Fellow. Begashaw has served as a member and chair of several boards of trustees with national and international mandates, including International Live Stock Research (ILRI), Alamaya University, Ethiopian Agriculture Research System, Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute, the National Drug Administration the National Standard Organization, the National Food Reserve agency and Ethiopian Radiation Agency. Belay likes reading in his spare time.