dr.ir. WS (Walter) de Boef

dr.ir. WS (Walter) de Boef


Walter de Boef is Senior Advisor Seed Systems with the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) with more than 30 years of experience in smallholders’ agricultural development. He has a MSc in Plant Breeding and PhD in Communication and Innovation Studies both from Wageningen University.

He has developed strong leadership skills that facilitate partners tackling in a collaborative manner complex issues. His experience and insights make him an interesting partner in development processes for public, private and civil society stakeholders. Walter has worked in more than 40 countries in the global south; he is fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Walter has joined WCDI in April 2020. He is member of the cluster on seed sector development and co-leads the value proposition Sector Transformation. He works in seed projects in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Sahel (Mali and Niger). Primary responsibilities are strategy design, system change (institutional markets, variety release), design and monitoring the implementation of national seed road maps through dashboards. He is also responsible for the relationship with Dutch seed companies in the three projects. In his role as co-lead Sector Transformation Walter works with other groups in WCDI and WUR on aspects of inclusion, environment, measurement and governance of sectors and food systems. 

Until December 2016, he was leading the seed system work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and facilitated the kick-off of the Lives and Livelihoods Fund’s agricultural component in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank. Previously, he was visiting professor with the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil, associate consultant at Centre for Development Innovation, consultant with KIT and ETC. Before he was coordinator of international projects at Centre for Genetic Resources in the Netherlands.

As scientist, he co-developed approaches that include Integrated Seed Sector Development and Community Biodiversity Management, on which he has been publishing several books and scientific papers. In his current role he publishes on food systems, sector transformation and gender empowerment. He facilitated more than 80 (often international) multi-stakeholder workshops; was leader in design and implementation of 15 international collaborative projects; and was involved in the design and/or evaluation of 30 seed, biodiversity and agricultural development projects.