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Home : Volume 25 : Fall 1998 :
Distinguished Service Award for John S. Balis

John S. Balis

John S. Balis
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John Balis believes in helping people help themselves. Throughout his international agriculture and agribusiness development career, he has touched the lives of many by helping developing countries learn how to increase their own food production.

He began his career as an instructor in the agricultural engineering department at Purdue University, and later was a professor of agricultural engineering at the Allahabad Agricultural Institute in India. However, he soon discovered that his loyalties were in the transfer of engineering technology as applied to food production in developing countries.

Balis worked for 27 years as an agriculture officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development, retiring as a senior foreign service officer in 1994. Following that retirement, and until August 1998, Balis served as the director of food systems restructuring for the Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs.

William Chancellor, emeritus professor at the University of California-Davis, says, "In each of his assignments, John Balis has envisioned what could be accomplished by bringing together international and in-country technologies, organizations, and finances and the people who are innovators and leaders in each of those sectors."

In 1996, Balis was awarded the Kishida International Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions in engineering through international development. Results of his work in Russia, Ukraine and Moldova have shown it is possible to double farm production through introducing Western technology and free market management. Colleagues report that Balis' visionary leadership in transferring technology and developing international programs has improved food and fiber production in Cameroon and Senegal in Africa, Jordan and Morocco in the Middle East, and India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Southern Asia.


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