A distinguished professor with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences School of Forest Resources and Conservation was recently honored at the Fourtth World Congress of Agroforestry.
P. K. Nair, who joined the School in 1987, was celebrated for his outstanding contributions to the development of agroforestry worldwide.
A special session called “A Tribute to P. K. Nair” was chaired by Dennis Garrity, United Nations Ambassador for Drylands and former director of the World Agroforestry Centre, who chronicled Nair’s exceptional contributions during the past 42 years.
Nair is recognized as one of the pioneers of the agroforestry field. In 1977, he was one of the co-founders of the World Agroforestry Centre, based in Nairobi, Kenya. He relocated to Florida in 1978 to begin his career at the University of Florida.
Nair recognized the need for an international institution to unite agroforestry researchers across the globe, and in 2004, he initiated the first World Congress hosted in Orlando. The World Congress has grown tremendously since its inception. The 2019 event, held in Montpellier, France, was attended by 1,200 delegates from 100 countries.
During the program, Nair was remembered fondly by former students as a source of “tough love” who pushed his students to the next level.
“He was a big defender of his students and had a personal touch with each one of us,” said Daniel Mugendi Njiru, Nair’s former Ph.D. student. “Even though I graduated many years ago, I still reach out to him for advice and his mentoring continues.”
Nair, who will retire from UF in 2019, had words of encouragement for the next generation of agroforestry researchers: “My journey with agroforestry started 42 years ago, before the word was even created. While we have achieved a lot, it is always human nature to wish for more. Bright, more prosperous days are still ahead of us. The old guard is moving out, the future is yours, and we wish you all the very best.”
You can view Nair’s special session on YouTube.