How has been your journey in biotechnology?
I am a plant molecular breeder with background in agronomy and plant physiology. I started my career as a researcher in 1990 at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigeria, in a joint collaborative project with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) on broadening the cassava germplasm base in Africa. I joined the cassava genetics/biotech team at CIAT in 1998 to develop molecular tools and map genes for key breeding traits of cassava. In 2005, I facilitated the transfer of the tools to drive molecular breeding platforms in Africa that resulted in the release of improved varieties of cassava with Latin American genetic background for higher productivity, good CMD resistance and high starch content. It has been a rewarding journey so far.
What’s your last word to policy makers and farmers?
To farmers, agriculture is not just a means of life, make it a source of livelihood, an agribusiness that offers value. Again, agriculture is science, thus should be driven by innovative and appropriate technologies.
To policy makers, drive and create conducive environment for farmers and farming to thrive. They should promote stronger public-private partnerships to improve agricultural value chains for commodities so that African countries can maximise benefits from sub-sector.