Zeyaur R. Khan, ESA Fellow (2010)


Dr. Zeyaur Rahman Khan, Principal Scientist at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Nairobi, Kenya, was elected as Fellow in 2010. He is internationally lauded for his development and dissemination of the innovative system of "push–pull farming," which simultaneously addresses issues of crop pests, food security, climate change and sustainability.

Khan attended the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi, receiving his M.S. in 1977 with a major in insect taxonomy, and his Ph.D. in 1980, majoring in insect physiology, working on resistance in cotton insects. After teaching at Rajendra Agricultural University (1980–1983) in Bihar, India, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow (1983–1985) at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, research associate  at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1985-1986), entomologist at IRRI (1986–1991), and visiting senior scientist at Kansas State University (1991–1993) before joining icipe.  Khan holds adjunct professorship appointments at Cornell University and at Northwest University in South Africa. He is a council member of International Congress of Entomology.

Khan has made significant contributions to African society by enhancing food security and environmental sustainability through scientific research into the complex mechanisms that govern the ecology of plant–insect interactions and plant signaling in smallholder cereal–livestock production systems, leading to development of ‘push–pull’, an ecological agricultural innovation benefiting the poor, with adaptations for climate change to ensure long-term sustainability. He led a research-based extension system to disseminate push–pull, where natural and social scientists work closely with farmers and extension agents to ensure that research serves the evolution and spread of the technology. The push–pull system does not involve use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers and is economical, gender friendly, and appropriate for African mixed cropping practices. Through a unique combination of cutting-edge science, truly participatory development work, and wide-scale dissemination of this technology, Khan is transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in eastern Africa and beyond. Push–pull, which increases productivity with low external inputs, is just the kind of technology necessary to support the ‘green revolution’ that Africa needs. His efforts have substantially improved food security and incomes of as many as one million people living in more than 125,000 smallholder farm families in eastern Africa. His current goal is to reach one million households with push–pull by 2020.

Khan authored or co-authored over 130 scientific papers, 10 book chapters, and five books. Among his speaking engagements, he was a plenary speaker at the 2008 International Congress of Entomology.  He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, London, winner of the International IPM Excellence Award (2009) and ESA's Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology (2010). icipe designated their highest honor to Khan as the first Thomas Risley Odhiambo Distinguished Fellow in 2012. He was recognized by The World Academy of Sciences to share the 2012 TWAS Prize in Agriculture, and won the Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Outstanding Career in Agriculture in 2015.

(Updated December, 2015)