Eugenia Saini

Humphrey fellowship class of 2009-2010

Home country: Argentina

Current position: Executive Secretary, Regional Fund for Agricultural Technology (FONTAGRO) 

The most important impact of my Humphrey Fellowship experience is that it prepared me for leadership of a $100 million program comprising 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries in agricultural research and development. I have led 144 international projects in the food and agriculture R&D sector that benefitted 29 countries. I also lead an international team of about 30 people,” says Humphrey Fellowship alumna Dr. Eugenia Saini, who since 2018 has been the Executive Secretary of the Regional Fund for Agricultural Technology (FONTAGRO). Competition for this highly influential position was intense and she is the first woman to lead the Fund.

FONTAGRO is a unique cooperation mechanism among Latin American countries and Spain that promotes innovation in family farming, competitiveness, and food security through regional platforms. Specifically, the Fund focuses on: (i) technological, organizational, and institutional innovation; (ii) adaptation to and mitigation of climate change; (iii) sustainable intensification of agriculture and natural resources management; and (iv) competitive territories and value chains.

Comprising of 15 Latin American countries, FONTAGRO has $112 million invested in 160 international projects with 230 public-private organizations and spillover in at least 29 countries. The organization is sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). FONTAGRO also functions as a discussion forum on agricultural and rural innovation. 

Much of Eugenia's time involves monitoring the investments of the fund promoting partnerships among public and private organizations. Eugenia’s top leadership position at FONTAGRO is closely aligned with her passion for agriculture, feeding people, and making life better for farmers.

Indeed, this has been the hallmark of her almost 25 years of work in strategic planning and execution of regional cooperation projects. Her focus is on science and development, technological innovation, and sustainable agribusiness for small farming in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Her vision is establishing stronger strategic alliances among public and private organizations that enhance governance and increase investments in R&D.

Eugenia's professional background enhances her ability to work in multicultural and interdisciplinary teams, sharing knowledge from basic and applied sciences, portfolio financial management, and agribusiness policy design.

Recently she was awarded an Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy (AILA) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., an award that aims to empower CSIS’s young professionals and external audiences to make positive contributions to their communities and the world at large.