IITA GHU staff awarded Crop Trust’s outstanding Genebank Team (GHU Category) 2021
Crop Trust and the CGIAR Genebank Platform have recognized four staff from the IITA Germplasm Health Unit (GHU) and Virology Unit with the “Outstanding Genebank Team” award for 2021. This accolade acknowledges the overall achievements and contributions of GHU and, specifically, the “Legume Seed Health Testing and Phytosanitation” Team that ensured the genebank operations were uninhibited during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period in 2020.
The CGIAR Genebank Platform and Crop Trust announced plans to honor staff working in genebanks and GHUs across CGIAR centers to acknowledge the noteworthy contributions of staff during the lockdown in 2020. Qualifying technicians, researchers, and scientists have shown exemplary commitment, going “above and beyond the call of duty to ensure critical genebank operations have continued during these difficult times,” said Nelissa Jamora of Crop Trust and Genebank Platform Coordination Team (Bonn, Germany), who convened the awarding process.
The award recipients, Olateju Oyelami, Oluwabunmi Deborah Ajamu, Odunayo Elizabeth Akinfala, and Samuel Alaohuo, showed commendable resilience and commitment to deliver excellent results despite the challenging work conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. They received high commendation from Lava Kumar, the Head of IITA GHU and Virology Unit, who nominated them for the award.
“These four GHU staff made exemplary contributions to the legume seed health testing and phytosanitation work during the COVID-19 lockdown.” He highlighted their work as Research Assistants responsible for implementing legume (cowpea and wild Vigna spp.) seed health indexing. They showed leadership to complete testing of many legume samples (13,542 diagnostic assays) in one week, just before restrictions were imposed from 1 April 2020. “They represent a tireless GHU team that ensures successful service support to genebanks and safe germplasm exchange from IITA,” he continued.
The team expressed gratitude for the recognition as it meant that their work was appreciated. Oyelami said: “I feel great for the privilege of receiving this award, which makes me feel important and opens up doors to achieve even more.” Akinfala echoed those sentiments, stating: “This award proves that my role in the exchange of disease-free germplasm is well appreciated, and it motivates me to work harder to keep impacting lives positively.”
The award acknowledges the excellent work done by IITA to ensure safe germplasm exchange and efficient phytosanitary operations across CGIAR GHUs. “Phytosanitation is key to healthy germplasms, and I am delighted to be recognized for helping to prevent the spread of pests and diseases to pest-free areas. Ensuring compliance with phytosanitary measures, assisting in the production of healthy planting material, and certifying genebank crops for both national and international needs through germplasm exchange has been a great privilege,” said Ajamu.
“This prestigious award from Crop Trust has rekindled my passion for doing even more in plant health research. From this experience, I encourage other young and hardworking colleagues to be steadfast in their good work, and fortune will smile on them someday,” said Alaohuo, IITA-GHU/Virology Unit.
GHUs provide phytosanitary services to genebanks and breeding programs, ensuring that their products are free of quarantine-risk pests and diseases. They have a crucial role in supplying disease-free material directly to seed systems for multiplication and distribution to farmers. For more information about GHUs, visit https://www.genebanks.org/the-platform/germplasm-health/.