Egesi receives biotechnology awards for food security efforts in Nigeria

Chiedozie Egesi received the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN) Fellowship Award in honor of his longstanding contributions to science and technology to improve food security.

Egesi, Associate Professor at Cornell College of Agriculture and Biosciences and Senior Scientist at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), was recognized for his efforts in mentoring young scientists and developing bio-certified foods for Nigeria. BSN celebrated Egesi for his work promoting biotechnology in Nigeria, particularly for using biotechnological tools to improve cassava farming.

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

As the project manager for NextGen Cassava, Egesi has made efforts to modernize partner cassava breeding institutions in Africa and use state-of-the-art tools for the efficient delivery of improved cassava varieties. The project, which was launched for the first time in 2012, aims to empower farmers in sub-Saharan Africa through innovative, sustainable manioc cultivation. In 2020 the project helped develop and release five new types of cassava in Nigeria. The new varieties offer smallholder farmers new disease-resistant options and traits that consumers will appreciate.

NextGen Cassava, based in Cornell’s Global Development Department, has been a training ground for many young African plant breeders. “Over the years your strong and solid commitment to educating several students in agrobiotechnology has brought much fruit to the country,” the company said of Egesi’s efforts.

The BSN commended Egesi for developing bio-fortified cassava, which is rich in vitamin A, and for efforts to develop several improved yam varieties.

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

At the BSN awards ceremony, Egesi gave a talk on “Better Harvests for Nigeria with Integrated Tools and Approaches: The Cassava Success Story” to hundreds of scientists who attended the conference in person and virtually.

This article also appeared in the CALS newsroom.

Matt Hayes is director of communications for global development at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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