IITA’s DG and scientists honored for their outstanding contribution to development of root crops in Africa
Nine out of 10 scientists honored were current or former staff of IITA
The International Society for Tropical Root Crops-Africa Branch (ISTRC-AB) has appreciated the contribution of 10 scientists including the Director General of IITA towards the development of root and tuber crops in Africa. This took place at a gala dinner hosted by the Society at its recently concluded 13th Triennial Symposium held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 6–10 March 2017.
The IITA DG, Nteranya Sanginga, received special recognition for his outstanding leadership and contribution to the development of root and tuber crops in Africa in the five years he’s headed the Institute.
The other IITA scientists who received an appreciation award from the society were the Directors for Eastern and Western Africa, Victor Manyong and Robert Asiedu, respectively; Head of Advocacy and Resource Mobilization Regina Kapinga; Alfred Dixon, Director of the Development and Delivery Office; and country Representative for the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mahungu Nzola -Meso.
Also honored was the 2016 World Food Prize Laureate and sweet potato breeder from the International Potato Center (CIP), Maria Andrade, and two former staff of IITA, Mpoko Bokanga, the founder of AgroTEQ , and Malachy Akoroda from the University of Ibadan. A posthumous appreciation award was also presented to the late Kenneth Nwosu, former Executive Director of National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Nigeria. Manyong received the special recognition award on behalf of the IITA DG.
While handing over the appreciation plaques, Society President Lateef Sanni said the awards aimed to reward and appreciate the hard work and dedication of awardees towards improving the production of root and tuber crops such as cassava, sweet potato, potato, and yam in Africa and, in turn, contributing to food security in Africa.
Sanni pointed out that the researchers at IITA had worked with their various national partners in Africa to develop high-yielding cassava varieties tolerant of the two deadly viral diseases that had nearly wiped out the crop―Cassava Mosaic Disease and Cassava Brown Streak Disease―and addressed markets and postharvest losses through value addition and processing.
“IITA’s work in the biological control of cassava mealybug—a pest that had ravaged cassava fields in Africa―helped put the crop back on the table for farmers and consumers alike. The development and dissemination of orange-fleshed potato by CIP and provitamin A cassava varieties by IITA have helped in addressing malnutrition in the continent,” he said.
IITA’s DG noted that the awards to both serving and past staff of IITA demonstrated the importance and contribution of IITA to Africa’s development agenda.
He pledged and restated IITA’s commitment to eradicating hunger and poverty in Africa by transforming the continent’s agricultural space.
Congratulations to all the winners!
Nteranya Sanginga, Director General of IITA. Prior to becoming IITA DG, Sanginga served as the Director of the Nairobi-based Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute (TSBF) of the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT-TBSF).
Maria Andrade is a sweet potato breeder working with CIP in Mozambique. She has 30 years of working experience in Africa, the first 10 of which she spent as a regional cassava and sweetpotato agronomist for the Southern Africa Root Crop Research Network, a program run jointly by IITA and CIP. She has released 30 biofortified sweet potato varieties of which 20 are drought tolerant. Andrade is also on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and served as the vice president for fundraising for ISTRC global for five years. She also is one the recipients of the 2016 World Food Prize.
Victor Manyong is an Agricultural Economist working for IITA as the Director for Eastern Africa and based at the regional office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He is also the Leader for the Social Science Research Group at the Institute. Manyong has about 23 years of experience at IITA working in various fields including adoption and impact studies, production and market economics, and research management.
Robert Asiedu is a plant breeder working with IITA as the Regional Director for West Africa and the leader for Biotechnology and Genetic Improvement at IITA. Asiedu’s research partners have formally released new yam varieties based on improved germplasm from his program, e.g., 18 varieties in Nigeria by the National Root Crops Research Institute and one in Ghana by the Crops Research Institute. Asiedu was the President of ISTRC-AB from 2002 to 2004.
Alfred Dixon (also known by his peers as “Dr Cassava”) is the Project leader of the Cassava Weeds Management Project and Director, Development and Delivery Office at IITA. He served as the Pioneer Director General of the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute, Sierra Leone, for five years after leaving IITA in 2008. He pioneered the genetic improvement of cassava, and in collaboration with colleagues in national agricultural research systems (NARS), and through a combination of conventional and new approaches, developed over 400 improved cassava cultivars for a range of agroecologies and cropping systems as well as end uses in Africa.
Mpoko Bokanga is the founder and currently CEO of AgroTEQ, a consulting firm that provides technical expertise and feasibility assessment of agro-industrial projects to private entrepreneurs and development institutions in the agribusiness sector. Before that he worked for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as Representative to Kenya, Eritrea, and South Sudan. He was also the first Executive Director of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and head of the Biochemistry and Food Technology Laboratory at IITA in Ibadan, Nigeria, for 12 years.
Nzola-Meso Mahungu has worked for 21 years for IITA as a Scientist in several African countries including Tanzania, Malawi, and DR Congo. He is currently the Country Representative of IITA in DRC. As a cassava breeder, he has significantly contributed to germplasm development targeting various value chains.
Malachy Akoroda joined ISTRC-AB in 1980, i.e., 37 years ago. He has supported tropical root crop development in diverse arenas across 42 countries and represented the Africa region at the International Year of the Potato in Peru and India in 2008. He has served as the 7th Executive Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) Ibadan. From 2004 to 2006, he was the Officer-in-charge of IITA substation at Onne, Rivers State, Nigeria. In 2000 to 2003, he served as President of the ISTRC‑Africa Branch; and in November 2006 in Thiruvananthapuram [Trivandrum], Kerela, India, he received from the ISTRC-worldwide a Lifetime Award for his meritorious services to the society in ISTRC‑AB. He is serving as Vice President for Fundraising for the ISTRC-worldwide.
Regina Emilian Kapinga is currently Head of Advocacy and Resource Mobilization at IITA. She is also a focal person of the CGIAR Site Integration process in Tanzania. Prior to IITA, she was a Senior Program Officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USA, where she was responsible for grant making and management in the Roots, Tubers & Bananas (RTBs) portfolio. Before that, she lived and worked in Uganda at the CIP-SSA regional office as a sweet potato breeder/agronomist for the SSA region from 2001 to early 2009.
Kenneth Iheanyichukwu Nwosu (posthumous). The late Sir Dr Kenneth Nwosu started his career in 1975 as a young Pupil Research Officer at the Federal Department of Agricultural Research and later the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI). From 1981 to 1992, Nwosu was the Head of NCRI Uyo/Amakama-Olokoro Station and from 1992 to 1997, he became the Project Officer at NCRI, for the World Bank-Assisted National Agricultural Research Project (NARP). From then Nwosu rose through the ranks to become the Assistant Director (Planning) at NCRI and in 2002 was appointed by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo as Executive Director of the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, Abia State to October 2011. Nwosu made his painful exit from this world on 14 July 2014.