A member of the Next Generation Cassava Breeding Project (NextGen Cassava), Moshood Agba Bakare, has been awarded the Cornell Africa Fund Fellowship for his PhD program at Cornell University. The plant breeding and genetics researcher went to Cornell from IITA, Ibadan, where he worked with Peter Kulakow, head of Cassava Breeding.
Bakare is researching to determine if cassava breeding programs targeted at specific agroecological zones would yield improved results instead of breeding varieties designed to adapt to Nigeria’s broad ecological zone.
NextGen Cassava, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, aims to produce model cassava breeding programs, improve and expand the breeding programs’ population to ensure a solid foundation for future genetic gains, release improved cassava varieties that meet the criteria for quality acceptability, and sustainably improve smallholder farmer livelihoods, among others.
Bakare’s course adviser, Jean-Luc Jannink of the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), said Moshood has diligently expanded his skills since he came to Cornell. He said his willingness to develop new approaches rather than stay with the familiar holds a bright light for his future as a lead researcher for crop improvement and economic development in Nigeria.
Responding to the Fellowship, Bakare said, “I am thrilled and honored to be the recipient of the Africa Fund Fellowship from Cornell University. This award will not only support me in my research fieldwork but also motivate me to apply various skills and knowledge acquired in the course of my studying towards optimization of available resources in the cassava breeding program in Nigeria. I am deeply appreciative of Cornell University for considering me worthy of this award.”
The Fellowship Fund covers his full tuition and nine months’ stipend and benefits at Cornell’s Graduate School.