McNamara named director of postharvest loss institute at Illinois

Paul McNamara
Paul McNamara

Paul McNamara, whose decades of work in developing and strengthening international extension systems has enhanced the lives of millions of smallholder farmers, has been selected as the new director for the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss (ADMI), which is housed in the College of Agricultural Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

McNamara, a faculty member in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics since 1999 and an Illinois Extension Specialist, has led multiple efforts to use education and technical assistance to help maximize the potential of people and technology around the world. His previous work includes leading five major awards funded through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and his AgReach Program, where he assists organizations and programs in places like Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi to help smallholder farmers improve their agricultural productivity, increase their incomes, and achieve better household food security. For ADMI, he has previously served as the lead for Market Systems, Extension, and Innovation Scaling and has recently worked in Sierra Leone to advance the usage of Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags, which are a solution to post-harvest losses, and in Indonesia to improve value chains.

Through his teaching and by developing and leading impactful study abroad experiences and internships, McNamara has also served as a mentor to hundreds of Illinois students as they have gained international perspectives and experiences.     

“Paul’s dedication and passion towards his extensive international portfolio plus his strong ties to ADMI make him the right person to lead the university’s work towards reducing postharvest losses around the world,” said College of ACES Dean Germán Bollero. “We look forward to seeing Paul continue to lead our international efforts to improve agricultural sustainability in this role.”  

McNamara replaces Alex Winter-Nelson who retired from the university in April.

ADMI was established in 2011 with a gift from the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Company to the College of ACES to promote research, outreach, education, and capacity building to reduce postharvest losses in grains and oilseeds and enhance global food security and environmental sustainability. The institute receives continued support from ADM Cares, the social responsibility arm of ADM. The most recently funded projects include work in Indonesia to strengthen female-led farmer organizations and advance gender equity in its oil palm industry. Link to webpage. 

“I look forward to providing leadership to ADMI and working to continue to build the program and its impact,” McNamara said.