Peer Reviews

Assessment of Uma Lele's Professional Contributions by Peers

The Committee continues to be impressed by the superb quality of the work of the OED evaluation team... This very professional OED work needs wider dissemination and follow up. It reflects several years of research that can guide those making decisions from now on. The dissemination of the findings and lessons... could be pursued jointly by President Wolfensohn and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The external Advisory Committee consisting of Rolf Luders, Professor and Editor, Cuadernos De Economica, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile; Wolfgang Reinicke, Director, Global Public Policy Institute and Managing Director, Galaxar S.A., Geneva; Nafis Sadik, former Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund; and Adele Simmons, President, The Global Philanthropy Partnership and former President of the MacArthur Foundation.

Addressing Challenges of Globalization:An Independent Evaluation of the World Bank's Approach to Global Programs, Phase 2 Report.

This thorough, illuminating report accurately reviews and develops the picture of the CGIAR contained in past reviews of performance of individual Centers, and by a few intermittent reviews of the System as a whole. Its proposals are, in large measure, essential if the research contribution of the System is to thrive. The World Bank is well placed to overcome the collective action problem and build the trust needed to induce donors, Centers, and the CGIAR System centrally to move together in the directions indicated. In asserting this responsibility for corporate governance of the CGIAR System, the Bank should work closely with other major donors of unrestricted funds...It is the most comprehensive and authoritative analysis available of the CGIAR and the challenges it faces in “nourishing the future through scientific excellence.

The external Advisory Committee consisting of Yujiro Hayami, Graduate Program Director, Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development, Tokyo, Japan; Michael Lipton, Research Professor of Economics, Poverty Research Unit, University of Sussex, U.K.; and Harris Mule, Vice Chair, Transparency International (Kenya) and Director, Top Investment Management Services, Nairobi, Kenya. Signed from Tokyo, Brighton, Nairobi 14 March 2003.

The CGIAR at 31:An independent meta-evaluation of the consultative group oninternational agricultural research, Vol. 1 of 1 Feb 01, 2004

Overall the Taskforce powerfully demonstrated the importance of empirical analysis as a basis for policy studies and policy making, and demonstrated a methodology - the case study approach - for conducting empirical analysis. Furthermore, the Taskforce showed the value and potential of independent and constructive policy analysis in the forestry sector… and created a demand for additional analysis and input by trusted independent organizations.

Zheng Yisheng and Zuo Ting Evaluation of the Western China Forests and Grasslands Taskforce, 2000-2002 co-chaired by Uma Lele, China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development.


Uma Lele is considered one of the foremost economists in developing understanding of the complex interactions among agricultural policy, agricultural growth, and equity as they collectively influence pace and pattern of overall development. She has also made important contributions in understanding the roles of international finance, policy advice, and knowledge transfers in the processes of growth and distribution in developing countries.

American Agricultural Economic Association, 1999


She demonstrated that virtually all widely held views about Indian grain markets were invalid.

The late Professor D. Gale Johnson, Department of Economics, University of Chicago


Her first major contributions dealt with agricultural market behavior in South Asia. Her work demonstrated that rural commodity markets worked efficiently. ... major challenge to conventional wisdom at the time. Her second major contribution dealt with the evaluation of rural development programs particularly in Africa. These studies reported in her book The Design of Rural Development.: Lessons From Africa (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press) had a major impact on redirecting World Bank policy away from an excessive emphasis on integrated rural development programs. It forced a refocus on the policy environment needed to make such programs effective. In addition to her research Uma his had major academic and administrative experience.

Vernon Ruttan, Regents Professor Emeritus, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Minnesota


Due largely to her leadership, the report produced by the Panel (on), "Global Research on the Environmental and Agricultural Nexus for the 21st Century", was exceptional in terms of its relevance to the agricultural research needs of developing countries as well as its vision of the future of agriculture and agricultural research in the global context. Her critical contribution, knowledge of developing countries in general and of Africa in particular and mastery of the economics of sustainable agricultural development suffused the report and has given it enduring value.

Henri  Carsalade, Deputy Director General, Food and Agriculture Organization


... the GREAN Initiative is a highly innovative new approach for engaging U.S. science in the most pressing global agricultural and related environmental issues, and in many ways Uma Leie has been both its heart and soul... early on Uma recognized the need for a new paradigm for U.S. international agricultural research to reflect the new context... a paradigm of peer-based, demand-led , and mutually beneficial research which is Based on fully collaborative partnerships among US, universities, Developing country national agricultural research systems, and the international agricultural research centers.Uma's leadership has been critical in developing the mechanisms and securing resources necessary for the GREAN concept into practice.

R. S. Paroda, The Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Secretary, Science and Technology Government of India

Her advice has stood the test of time. Her quest for improving the quality of Bank lending and for achieving excellence has always impressed me. She persuaded the World Bank's Latin America Region to finance the loan for the major restructuring of the Brazilian National Agricultural Research System and she played a leadership role in its design. She has managed to engage the Government of China and the WorId Bank in a dialogue on agricultural research investments.

Ismail Serageldin, Director of Bibliotheca Alexadrina, Alexandria, Egypt, Former Vice President of Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development, World Bank

Dr. Lele's contribution to the development of agricultural research and linkages South-North... has been outstanding... The project (in Brazil) has many innovative characteristics including the introduction of a major competitive grants system open to all agricultural research institutions in Brazil.

Francisco Reifschneider, Director, CGIAR, formerly Secretariat of International Cooperation, EMBRAPA, Brazil


She has played a very important role in increasing the scientific excellence and social relevance of the research and capacity building programs of the CGIAR.

M.S. Swaminathan, M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation


Her efforts in the World Bank in initiating collaborative research in developing countries will be very useful for accelerating agricultural growth.

Mruthyanjaya, Assistant Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research


I was impressed by her insights into rural development issues and the importance of women especially in the rural economy of . India.   Uma Lele has developed into one of the authorities on the problems of Sub-saharan African agriculture and rural development. She has become an advocate for providing more effective public, social and policy support for women in development everywhere.

Norman Borlaug, Nobel Lauriate and Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture, Texas A and M University


She is clearly a very well recognized authority on the subject (of rural development in developing countries), which is itself very broad covering for instance marketing and production technology, policies and institutions, local grass-root level developments and international dimensions. What has stuck me most over the years is the soundness of her judgment on these issues which are often complex, because they result from multiple interactions, making clear diagnoses difficult. She has and continues to play an important role in the debates on these issues at the World Bank. These debates are often controversial; Uma does not hesitate to forcefully put her views across, even if these views are iconoclasticshe is very often right. Her international reputation is not only due to some advantage which she would have derived from working at the World Bank.

Michel Petit, Former Director of Agriculture, World Bank


She was a highly valued member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. She contributed greatly to a more rigorous and more analytical approach to priority setting and resource allocation.

The late Robert Havener, Former Director of CYMMIT and Chair of Various CGIAR, Center Boards


she has an unusual ability to select a significant problem and then turn out a stream of working papers followed by a landmark book. The issues raised in Dr. Lele's 1971 book, (Foodgrain Marketing in India: Private Performance and Public Policy) are still timely in the changing public and private sector roles in grain marketing in developing countries. Dr. Lele's questions about Tanzania's development strategy created a firestorm in the World Bank leading to a launch of a comparative study of six countries in Africa. 

Carl Eicher, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University

As member of the faculty of the University of Florida, she gave outstanding leadership to the development of the GREAN program to help promote substantial increases in funding for international agricultural research.

E. T. York, Chancellor Emeritus, State University System of Florida


Dr. Lele is highly regarded internationally for her outstanding work as an economist in many areas in Asia and Africa.

Yujiro Hayami, Graduate Program Director, Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development, Tokyo, Japan