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Cassava breeder awarded Cornell's Africa Fund Fellowship

Cassava researcher Moshood Agba Bakare has been awarded the Africa Fund Fellowship from Cornell University. The fellowship covers full tuition at Cornell’s Graduate School along with a nine-month stipend and benefits.

Bakare, a native of Nigeria, is a Ph.D. student in the field of plant breeding and genetics, with a minor in statistics, and a member of the Next Generation Cassava Breeding Project which is housed in the Department of Global Development within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Bakare is advised by Jean-Luc Jannink, research geneticist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and adjunct faculty at Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science.

Moshood Agba Bakara samples cassava plants at a research trial in Nigeria.

Cassava is an important crop for smallholder farmers in Nigeria and improved cassava varieties play a large role in enhancing Nigeria’s food security. Bakare’s research is helping to determine if cassava breeding programs can be improved by targeting specific agro-ecological zones, as opposed to breeding varieties designed for broad adaption across all of Nigeria.

“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 field work but also motivate me to apply various skills and knowledge acquired in the course of my studying towards optimization of available resources in cassava breeding program in Nigeria. I am deeply appreciative of Cornell university for considering me worthy of this award,” said Bakare.

Bakare came to Cornell from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria, a flagship international agricultural research center and partner organization in the Next Generation Cassava Breeding Project.

“Moshood has diligently expanded his skill set since arriving at Cornell,” said Jannink. “Combined with his willingness to develop new analyses rather than hew to approaches he is familiar with bodes well for his future as a lead researcher back in Nigeria, where he is dedicated to crop improvement for economic development.”

The Next Generation Cassava Breeding Project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

This story originally appeared in the CALS Newsroom.

John Bakum is a communications specialist with NextGen Cassava in the Department of Global Development.

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