NextGen Cassava project director Chiedozie Egesi was announced as the 2021 Achiever in Agriculture Award for his work creating a platform to deliver resilient food systems in Nigeria.
The Nigeria Agriculture Award (NAA) recognizes outstanding individuals who have contributed to the development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector, with an emphasis on those who have improved productivity, research and innovation.
Egesi, senior scientist at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and adjunct professor at Cornell University’s Department of Global Development, leads NextGen Cassava, a multidisciplinary research project working to optimize partner cassava breeding institutions in Africa. Based at Cornell, the project deploys cutting-edge tools for efficient delivery of improved varieties of cassava, with smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa as the ultimate beneficiaries of the work.
According to the NAA, the award recognizes Egesi for “the strides you have made in the agriculture sector, particularly in the creation and efficient delivery of improved seed varieties such as cassava, to significantly increase the production of staple foods and create the needed platform to develop resilient food systems in Nigeria.”
In acknowledging the achievement, Egesi said, “It’s an exciting moment, and a recognition of the dedicated efforts of our team of research colleagues and partners across the years.”
In December 2020, five new cassava varieties developed with support from NextGen Cassava were approved for release in Nigeria. These varieties provide new options for farmers through improved disease resistance and traits preferred by consumers.
The award was presented Aug. 24 at the Feed Nigeria Summit held in Abuja. The conference focused on the theme “Post Covid-19: A repaired food system, pathway to a revived economy.”
Matt Hayes is director for communications for Global Development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.