Back to Top

Carl K. Eicher

Carl K. Eicher, professor of agricultural economics at Michigan State University (MSU) from 1961 to 1999, passed away on July 5, 2014.  Dr. Eicher’s lifelong passion was enabling agricultural development and ending hunger in Africa. At Michigan State University from 1961 to 1999, he was a visionary leader and prominent voice for global food security. He worked in several African universities and organizations to build the capacity to make the continent self-sufficient in food production.  Over his career, he mentored hundreds of students committed to Africa, both from the continent and from elsewhere.

“The fruits of his contributions of building a generation of African researchers, educators and policy makers will be harvested for decades to come,” said Peter Matlon, former Managing Director-Africa, Rockefeller Foundation.

Eicher was born April 3, 1930, and grew up on a farm near Newberry in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics at MSU, then a doctorate in economics at Harvard University. He returned to MSU as a faculty member in 1961. Eicher always was a strong advocate of the land grant mission in U.S. higher education.

Eicher served as a visiting professor at the University of Nigeria from 1963-66, at Stanford University in 1968 and at the University of Zimbabwe from 1983-87, where he was co-director with Mandi Rukuni of the University of Zimbabwe/MSU Food Security program. He also worked there with SADCC, an organization created to reduce the economic dependence of neighboring countries on South Africa during the era of apartheid.

Eicher wrote eight books on agricultural development, two of which became standard texts. Among his publications, his article in Foreign Affairs, “Facing Up to Africa’s Food Crisis” (1982) drew the attention of global policy makers to hunger in Africa.

After retirement, his dedication to African development persisted through his work with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank, the Kellogg Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and African organizations such the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).