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IITA: Yam Breeder/Geneticist

Posted on Wed 07th Oct, 2009 - --- (2 comments)

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) invites applications for the position of a Yam Breeder/Geneticist.

IITA is an international nonprofit research-for-development (R4D) organization created in 1967, governed by a Board of Trustees, and supported primarily by the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Our R4D is anchored on the development needs of sub-Saharan Africa. We develop agricultural solutions with our partners to tackle hunger and poverty by reducing producer and consumer risks, enhancing crop quality and productivity, and generating wealth from agriculture. We have more than 100 internationally recruited scientists from about 35 countries and 900 nationally recruited staff based in various stations across Africa. More information on IITA is available on

Yams (Dioscorea species of family Dioscoreaceae) constitute a multi-species crop that is important for food, income and socio-cultural activities, especially in West and Central Africa that account for about 93% of the world’s annual production of about 51 million tons. Yam breeding at IITA is aimed at (i) high and stable yield of marketable tubers; (ii) host plant resistance to nematodes, viruses, and fungi (especially anthracnose); (iii) high tuber quality and characteristics preferred by farmers and consumers; and (iv) suitability to cropping systems and tolerance to abiotic stresses (e.g. nutrient responsiveness, tolerance to terminal drought). IITA’s research partners in Nigeria and Ghana have selected and formally released high-yielding yam varieties from IITA-derived populations that are resistant to major diseases and have good tuber food qualities.

IITA’s yam breeding program benefits from effective links with several other programs at the Institute. These include a program on the conservation of the largest collection of Dioscorea germplasm (about 3200 accessions), their characterization, evaluation and documentation. Ongoing studies in molecular genetics include diversity analyses and the development of molecular markers to raise efficiency of the breeding efforts. The agenda for plant physiology includes investigation of improved options for rapid mass propagation of healthy propagules to hasten germplasm dissemination and the development of protocols for genetic transformation. The agronomy research is focused on soil fertility management and nutrient use efficiency in yams. Studies in pathology, nematology and virology are aimed at generating knowledge on, and developing strategies (especially host plant resistance) to mitigate, pre- and postharvest pests in yam systems. This also includes development of more efficient pest and pathogen diagnostics as well as protocols for germplasm screening. The research on food science/technology includes investigation of the functional properties required in yam tubers and products for household and industrial purposes; and development of efficient techniques for screening germplasm for textural and nutritional attributes desired by consumers.

Responsibilities: The Yam Breeder/Geneticist will provide leadership to the on-going yam breeding research at IITA and ensure the continuation and expansion of relevant external and internal partnerships with other programs. Tasks include:

1. Development of highly productive yam varieties and breeding populations with resistance to diseases and pests, good food and nutritional qualities, and desirable physiological and agronomic traits adapted to different agro-ecozones of sub-Saharan Africa (with initial emphasis on West and Central Africa).
2. Use of innovative approaches for the exploitation of genetic diversity and genomic data from a range of Dioscorea species in germplasm enhancement and improvement of yams.
3. Integrating conventional yam breeding with MAB in collaboration with biotechnologists.
4. High quality research in breeding for resistance to biotic and tolerance to abiotic stresses, enhanced nutritional and end use quality traits, and their genetic basis.
5. Publishing and communicating research on yam genetic improvement
6. Establishing and fostering relationships and linkages with partners in national agricultural research and extension systems, the private sector and Advanced Research Institutes
7. Fostering an effective mechanism for delivery of improved yam germplasm to NARES and the private sector
8. Providing technical backstopping and assistance in building yam breeding capacity of national programs.
9. Mobilizing and managing research funds effectively.

Job Ref: DDG-R4D/YBG/08/09

Duty Station: Ibadan, Nigeria.

Qualifications/Experience: The candidate should have a PhD degree in plant breeding or genetics and good working knowledge of molecular genetics and use of statistical software and genetic tools.

* At least 7 years experience in a field-breeding program, and adequate exposure to molecular biology to implement marker-aided selection.
* A strong peer-reviewed publication record
* Minimum of 5 years of organizational, planning and budget management experience.
* Minimum of 5 years of donor relations experience including presentation of concept notes, proposal writing and oversight of compliance matters resulting in continuously donor funded projects.

Core Competencies:
* Ability to work as a member of a multi-disciplinary team in a cross-cultural environment.
* Excellent leadership, mentoring, management, interpersonal, and team building skills.
* Demonstrated strong statistical data analysis capabilities.
* Fluency in oral and written English. Working knowledge of French is an advantage.
* Knowledge of sub-Saharan Africa is an added advantage

Closing Date: The position will remain open until a suitable candidate is found.

General information: Initial appointment is for three years. IITA offers a competitive remuneration package paid in US dollars.

Applications: Applications including curriculum vitae, names and addresses of three referees should be addressed to the Human Resources Manager.

Click here to apply online

Click here to get more details of this vacancy.


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