Project team

Robert Asiedu

Dr. Robert Asiedu is the Director, Research for Development, for IITA-West Africa. He also leads the Institute’s work on Biotechnology and Crop Improvement. He joined IITA in 1989 to work as a breeder of root and tuber crops, after a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Mexico where he worked on the transfer of useful traits to wheat from its wild relatives. He provides institutional oversight to the AfricaYam project from amongst others.
Dr. Asiedu has supervised or coordinated collaborative R4D projects with NARIs in Africa, published widely in international peer-reviewed journals, and contributed to the formal release of several high-yielding and pest-resistant yam varieties by national research partners in Nigeria and Ghana. Together with university lecturers, he also co-supervised the thesis research on root and tuber crops of many postgraduate students, mostly in Africa.
He holds a PhD degree in Agricultural Science from the University Of Adelaide, Australia, and a BSc Honors degree from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. A Chartered Biologist, he is a member of the Society of Biology and the International Society for Tropical Root Crops.

Patrick Adebola

Dr. Patrick Adebola is a Plant Breeder/Geneticist. He joined IITA-Abuja, Nigeria as Project Leader of the AfricaYam Project. Dr. Adebola oversees and coordinates the project activities in the four target countries. He obtained his BSc, MSc and PhD degrees from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria in 1987, 1990 and 2003 respectively. He also obtained a Master degree in Business Leadership (MBL) from the Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa in 2014. Dr. Adebola has over 20 years’ experience in plant breeding research and community engagement in West and Southern Africa and had managed and supervised several international projects and networks.
Before joining IITA, Dr. Adebola worked at the Africa Rice Center as the Deputy Director General for the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI), Liberia in 2016. He was a Research Team Manager and Head of the Plant Breeding Division at the Agricultural Research Council, ARC-VOPI, South Africa (2005 – 2016). He also previously worked at the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria as a research scientist and rose to the position of Assistant Chief Research Officer and Program Manager Biotechnology (1993-2004). He was a postdoctoral fellow (2004-2005) in the department of Botany, University of Fort Hare, South Africa and a recipient of the Rothamsted International Postdoctoral Fellowship hosted by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), Sand Hutton, York, United Kingdom during 2008-2010.

David De Koeyer

Dr. David De Koeyer joined IITA-Ibadan, Nigeria in 2015 and presently works as a Yam breeder for the AfricaYam Project and Head of the Yam breeding program at IITA. He obtained a BSc degree in Agriculture from the University of Guelph, Ontario in 1988, his MSc and PhD degrees in Plant Breeding from the University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minnesota in 1992 and 1996, respectively.
Before he took up this appointment, he was a Research Scientist working on potato genetics and bioinformatics at the Potato Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Fredericton, New Brunswick (2000 to May 2015).

Asrat Amele

Asrat Asfaw Amele joined IITA-Abuja, Nigeria, as a Yam Breeder. He obtained a BSc degree in Plant Science from the former Alemaya Agricultural University (now Haromaya University), Ethiopia in 1995. He has an MSc degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics from CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hissar, India. He obtained his PhD in Plant Breeding at Wageningen University, The Netherlands in 2011.
Before this appointment, he had been a Potato Breeder at the International Potato Center, sub-Sahara Africa Regional Program since 2012.

Michael Abberton

Michael Abberton is Head of the Genetic Resources Center, IITA, Ibadan, since August 2012. He obtained his B.Sc. in Botany and Ph.D. in plant cytogenetics from the University of Manchester and subsequently undertook postdoctoral research in molecular biology at the University of St. Andrews. Following two years working on coffee germplasm improvement in Malawi he joined the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER), Aberystwyth, UK in 1993.
For a number of years he carried out research and breeding in forage legumes and became Head of the Plant Genetics and Breeding Department at IGER. Following merger with Aberystwyth University in 2008 [creating the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS)] he became Professor of Public Good Plant Breeding and Director of International Development.

Lava Kumar

Lava Kumar is the Head of the Germplasm Health Unit, and Virology and Molecular Diagnostics Unit at IITA. His research programs are focused on (a) protecting germplasm health from pathogens and pests; (b) tackling virus diseases of IITA crops (cassava, yam, banana/plantain, cowpea, soybean, and maize), cacao, and vegetables; (c) developing convenient diagnostic tools for identification of pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, and phytoplasma), pests and mycotoxins (aflatoxins); and (d) conducting training courses and workshops in plant disease diagnostics and control, and also higher degree training, leading graduate and postgraduate students to M.Sc. or Ph.D. degrees.
He has been leading several R4D projects executed in collaboration with universities, NARS, and ARIs.

Kolade Olufisayo Atinuke

Kolade Olufisayo Atinuke is a postdoctoral fellow (Yam Disease Phenotyping Specialist) under the project Africa Yam: Enhancing Yam Breeding for Increased Productivity and Improved Quality in West Africa.
She holds a PhD (2013) and an MSc (1995) in Genetics from the University of Ibadan and a BSc in Botany from the University of Ilorin (1989).
In collaboration with IITA virologist, she coordinates the technical management of diseases scoring and evaluation of breeding material, also training national breeders in scoring and associated activities.
Prior to her appointment, she worked as a Research Administrative Manager with the Africa Rice Center Ibadan station (2013-2015); and as a Research Assistant in AfricaRice, Cotonou, Benin Republic (2008-2013). She was a Research Associate at the Bioscience Center of IITA (2004-2008); Research Supervisor at the Cassava Breeding Unit (1994-2004); Research Supervisor at the then Tuber, Roots and Plantain Improvement Program, IITA (1990-1994) and was a youth corper (NYSC) (1989-1990).
She was a DSF fellow (BEST: Bourses d’échanges scientifiques et technologiques) at the Institute of Research and Development IRD, Montepellier, France (2011-2012 where she contributed to the research on the identification of a resistance gene to the Rice yellow mottle virus. She is presently an AWARD (African Women in Agricultural Research and Development) fellow.

Project Administrator:  Dr J.C. Uneke – Director, EBSU-DRIC (Directorate of Research, Innovation & Commercialisation)
Breeders    –                 Prof Happiness O. Oselebe (Project Coordinator)
Prof E. O. Okporie
Prof I. U. Obi;
Pathologist:                  Mr. A. Nwogbaga
Research Assistant:      Ozi Friday Ugadu
Technicians:                  Mr Emma Owoh
Mr Kelechi Nwancho
Project Accountant:      Mr John Nwankwo
Yam farmers & Cooperative Contacts:

  • Engr Friday Chukwu
  • Mr Eguji Sylvanus
  • Mr Francis Agbo

Dr. E. C Nwachukwu- NRCRI, PI/Project leader
Dr. J. Onyeka – NRCRI, Co-PI (Pathology)
Dr. J. E Obidiegwu- NRCRI, Co-PI (Breeding and Genetics)
Mr Chimela Ogidi- Field Technician
Ms Chidinma Nwachukwu- Laboratory / Field Technologist
Mrs. Elvis Chinenye – Project Accountant

Dr Kouakou Amani Michel – Yam Breeder
Dr Nzué Boni – Lead of Root and Tubers Program
Dr Dibi Konan – Plant physiologist
Mr Yao Guy Fernand – Soil scientist
Moyabi Gnanabé – Technician
Coulibaly Dogoba – Technician
Zamblé Tchambi – Technician
Koutouan Tchimon – Technician
Essis Brice Sidoine – Pathologist
Dr Zohouri Goli Pierre – Pathologist
Kouamé Brou – Climatologist
Mely Jacqueline – Accountant

Emmanuel Chamba, PhD – Breeder
Emmanuel Amponsah Adjei, MSc – Breeder
Alhassan Sayibu – Submitted MSc thesis – Principal Technical Officer
Ansaah Freda Agyapong, BSc – Technician
Sayibu Abukari, BSc – Chief Technical Officer
A S Alhassan, Diploma Agric – Technician
Ibrahim Sayibu, Diploma Agric, – Technician
Samuel Makukibe, BSc- Technician
Benjamin Kolan, BSc – National Service

Alexandre Anigbe

Project title: Determination for Benin five white yam cultivars of the average size of tuber minisett suitable for seeds yam and edible tubers production

Yam is an important crop that contributes to food security and poverty alleviation in Benin. Unfortunately, its production is subject to various constraints including lack of seeds. The aim of this study is to identify the appropriate minisett sizes for yam seed and edible tubers production in some yam varieties. For the study, five cultivars including one hybrid (Dr-A5-2003) and four popular varieties (Labôkô, Môrôkôrou, Kpagninan and Yaassi) were used. The trial was installed in a completely randomized block device with three replicates and the collected data were analyzed by the descriptive statistic. The highest germination rate (90.13%) is obtained with the minisett of 150g used as seed with the variety Kpagninan. The number of tubers harvested per mound varied from 1 to 11 in Kpagninan with a coefficient of variation of 118%. Dr-A5-2003 presented for the minisetts of 100g and 250g maximum yields of 35t/ha and 40t/ha respectively. It is followed by Yaassi which gives for only 50g of minisetts a maximum yield of 31t/ha. 50g minisetts is recommended for the production of yam seed in evaluated cultivars. The minisetts of 100, 150 and 200g in Môrokôrou are more suitable for the production of tubers of sizes between 500g and 1kg. 150 g of minisetts responds better in Labôkô and Yaassi for this category of tuber. In Dr-A5-2003, Yaassi and Labôkô, the minisetts of 100, 150, 200 and 250g can produce tubers weighing more than 1kg. We recommend that the results of this study be used by seed growers and managers of agricultural extension services in order to put in place an effective policy for the production of yam seeds and edible tubers for the benefit of producers, traders and consumers.

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