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Chiedozie Egesi, center, receives the Fellowship Award on March 29 from the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria.

Egesi earns biotechnology honors for food security efforts in Nigeria

Chiedozie Egesi, in honor of his long-standing contributions to science and technology for the improvement of food security, has earned the Fellowship Award from the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN).

Egesi, adjunct professor at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and senior scientist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), was recognized for his efforts mentoring young scientists and developing biofortified foods for Nigeria. BSN celebrated Egesi for his work advancing biotechnology in Nigeria, especially his deployment of biotechnology tools to improve cassava breeding.

He received the award on March 29 at the BSN’s annual conference at Alex Ekwueme Federal University.

As project director for NextGen Cassava, Egesi has led efforts to modernize partner cassava breeding institutions in Africa and deploy cutting-edge tools for efficient delivery of improved varieties of cassava. First launched in 2012, the project works to empower farmers in sub-Saharan Africa through innovative, sustainable cassava breeding. In 2020 the project helped develop and release five new cassava varieties in Nigeria; the new varieties provide smallholder farmers new disease-resistant options and with traits prized by consumers.

NextGen Cassava, based in Cornell’s Department of Global Development, has been a training ground for many young African plant breeders. “Over the years, your strong and robust commitment to training of several students in agricultural biotechnology has borne much fruit for the country,” the society said about Egesi’s efforts.

The BSN praised Egesi for his development of biofortified cassava rich in vitamin-A as well as his efforts developing several improved yam varieties.

Egesi has long been a pioneer for science in Nigeria. In 2020 he was elected the first president of the Nigerian Plant Breeders Association.

At the BSN award ceremony Egesi gave a lecture “Better Crops for Nigeria using Integrated Tools and Approaches: the Cassava Success Story” to hundreds of scientists attending the conference in-person and virtually.

This article also appeared in the CALS Newsroom.

Matt Hayes is director for communications for Global Development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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