Lassaad Lachaal, a Visiting Scholar at the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) 1989-1995, has been named Tunisia’s Minister of Agriculture.
Lahaal is a development practitioner with a background in economics and professional experience with Multilateral Development Banks and United Nations Development agencies, academia and research.
He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri and a minor in International Agricultural Development. He also holds a Master of Arts in Economics in the area of Economic Development and a Master of Sciences in the area of policy analysis.
Tunisia: Entering a Period of Change
On Jan. 27, Tunisia’s national assembly approved the country’s landmark new constitution – its first since the ouster of longtime president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali three years ago. The approval of the new constitution is one of the last steps to establishing full democracy in the North African country, the cradle of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that toppled autocratic leaders in one of the most conservative corners of the world.
The country’s agricultural exports totaled $15.1 billion in 2007. Its products are olives, grain, dairy products, tomatoes, citrus fruit, beef, sugar beets, dates and almonds. Agricultural production accounts for 11 percent of the country’s GDP, employing around 18 percent of the country’s 10,777,000 population.
Tunisia’s diverse, market-oriented economy has long been cited as a success story in Africa and the Middle East, but it faces an array of challenges during the country’s ongoing political transition. Following an ill-fated experiment with socialist economic policies in the 1960s, Tunisia embarked on a successful strategy focused on bolstering exports, foreign investment and tourism, all of which have become central to the country’s economy. Tunisia is suffering from a water shortage, however.
Experience in Africa
Before his new appointment, Lachaal was the Chief Training Economist at the African Development Institute. He also worked as deputy for the Director of the Joint Africa Institute (JAI), a partnership of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank. Before joining JAI in early 2007, Lachaal worked as Senior Research Economist in the Development Research Department, African Development Bank.
From 1999 to 2005, he served as the Head of the Agricultural Economics Research Department, University of Tunis, Tunisia. He also worked as a consultant for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Program.
Lachaal has received several awards, including the J. William Fulbright Visiting Research Scholar Award, 1997; The University of Missouri at Columbia Superior Achievement Award, 1994; The SAEA Distinguished Professional Contribution Award, 1993; and The Tenth Research and Creative Activities Forum Award, USA, 1992.
Lachaal is the second Minister of Agriculture to come from MU. Lee Dong-phil, the Republic of South Korea’s minister, earned his doctorate in Agricultural Economics in 1991.