Cultivating a new crop of African cassava experts
With support from NextGen Cassava, dozens of young people have turned their passions into career pathways that will build capacity in Africa’s agriculture breeding programs. NextGen Fellows have obtained advanced degrees from Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science, the West African Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI), a partnership between the University of Ghana and Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Makerere University Regional Centre for Crop Improvement in Uganda.
"My experience with NextGen has been amazing," says Lydia Ezenwaka Jiwuba, who earned her Ph.D. from WACCI in 2018 with a full sponsorship from NextGen Cassava. "Within my fully funded PhD program, I had the opportunity to study with great minds from different countries which I enjoyed because these people actually care about your perspective. I was able to learn a lot in a fast-paced environment, and it has sharpened my problem-solving skills - how to break down complicated problems and ability to think on the spot."
An expert in genetic traits linked to green mite resistance, Jiwuba is drawn to cassava for its many uses, for foods like gari and fufu, and for livestock feed and bio-ethanol. She now works on cassava with Nigeria’s National Roots Crop Research Institute.
Of the nearly 40 NextGen fellows, almost all have returned to work in their home countries to make an impact in Africa, like these four PhD graduates:
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