Use Your Breeding and People Skills to Help Modernize Plant Breeding Programs Across Africa

The Excellence in Breeding Platform (EiB) is a new cross-commodity platform from CGIAR that supports the modernization of breeding programs targeting Africa, Asia, and Latin America for greater impact on food and nutrition security, climate change adaptation and development. By providing important outcomes to under- resourced peoples, CGIAR centers around the world ( help realize the founding mission of their system. Excellence in Breeding is one of the newest elements of this important international organization and is responsible for breeding innovations globally.

To support this goal, CTI Executive Search has been retained to identify candidates for two important specialist roles in breeding leadership across Africa. These two scientists will support the Excellence in Breeding organization and lead their regional efforts to keep these critical breeding improvement programs on track. Each of the Breeding Specialists will be leading, coordinating, supporting and sustaining specific and targeted improvements within breeding programs across their region. He or she will be working with breeders and the Excellence in Breeding team to achieve higher rates of genetic gain and extract the maximum value of these new and proven technologies that are being deployed.

EiB is headquartered at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and is also well- connected with the 15 other sister centers, all known for their high impact on agriculture in developing countries. The EiB platform draws from innovations in CGIAR centers as well as advanced research institutes and the private sector, and provides access to cutting-edge tools, services and best practices while serving the world with application-oriented training and practical advice.

Breeding Specialist, Excellence in Breeding (Eastern and Western Africa)

We are seeking two hands-on breeders (one in Kenya or Zimbabwe, one in Western Africa) who have experience broadly in the methodologies of classical plant breeding with an open attitude and interest in learning more about the advanced methods brought to world centers by the EiB team. These breeding specialists will drive improvement and modernization of breeding programs across Africa and possibly beyond. While EiB is focused on advanced technologies, much of the daily activities of the Breeding Specialist will be to ensure that breeding fundamentals are being executed properly as opposed to a strict focus on cutting- edge technologies. However, technology will remain critical – for example, the use of predictive tools (molecular markers and various predictive phenotyping tools/methods) or the application of complex applications such as integrating whole genome data, or genomic selection, into the breeding pipeline and forward marker-assisted selection.

It is not necessary for our Breeding Specialists to come into the job with this expertise, as she or he will be learning from and engaging with the team of EiB specialists. The Breeding Specialist will create the bridge between the CGIAR breeders/scientists and the EiB team, as well as specialists from the private sector and advanced research institutes who are participating for knowledge transfer purposes.

Specific duties:

  • Lead, coordinate, support/sustain targeted improvements within breeding programs by coordinating follow-up on work set into place by EiB;
  • Develop formal product profiles describing the targets of the breeding work for each client, ensuring that product profiles guide selection and crossing decisions;
  • Develop annual advancement meetings for germplasm promotion, including input from all necessary disciplines (socio-economists, marketing, seed systems, etc.) and all regional stakeholders (grower representatives, end user representatives, seed sector);
  • Assist the client in reallocating their resources to optimize their breeding schemes;
  • Set up disciplined processes to follow selection of parental germplasm in a targeted manner, as well as identify and implement ways to overcome resource, logistical, and biological constraints to shortenthe breeding cycle time and increase the accuracy of data prior to selection of parents;
  • Identify ways to optimize selection intensity, perhaps by testing more lines or by selecting fewer (moreelite) parents;
  • Advise on and adjust selection intensities, ensuring alignment with selection accuracy;
  • Apply improved trial designs and analyses, as well as assist with trial management to increase qualitywhile reducing costs of generating trial data;
  • Seek out more accurate, cheaper and/or faster genotyping through the platform provided by EiB,including implementing standardized EiB workflows (sample tracking, sample presentation, datainterpretation, etc.) Help clients make selection decisions based on this data;
  • Work with the application of QA/QC to germplasm through the use of molecular markers;
  • Implement/support maintenance and sustainability processes for improved mechanized EiB solutionsthat allow for faster or more accurate data generation and collection;
  • Optimize the use of predictive phenotyping tools;
  • Introduce improved data management systems which may require moving all breeding data to aprofessional data management system;
  • Free up breeders’ time by assisting client scientists so that they can give their time and attention toensuring EiB improvements success in their programs;
  • Participate in EiB team commitments (meetings, workshops), including attending various face-to-facemeetings to include EiB events and center visits by EiB specialists, as well as weekly EiB virtual team meetings.

Required academic qualifications, skills and attitudes:

  • A Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics, Quantitative Genetics, or the like, with more than 4 years of relevant experience post PhD;
  • An excellent knowledge of breeding with practical work experience in a breeding program and an interest in or understanding of advanced methods (e.g. genomic selection);
  • Good reporting and communication skills in English (working language);
  • A team player with strong interpersonal communication skills, able to work in a multiculturalenvironment, with excellent leadership and people management skills;
  • Good organization skills and an understanding of the importance of planning and supporting all EiBinitiatives;
  • Experience in teaching and a deep interest in staff development, both in technical and non-technicalareas.

We believe that our client’s position offers a great opportunity for professional and technical career development through collaboration with a wide range of world experts, both within the CGIAR system and in private industry (as well as other world-class research institutions). It’s a fun place to work, with a friendly, humble environment full of passionate people enthused about their work and the difference they are making in agriculture around the globe. If you are interested in this role or can provide suggested contacts for CTI on this search, please contact us in confidence. Our search is not confidential and this document may be redistributed.

Contact:Dave Jensen, CEO and Skype: daveproactive (928) 274-2266 Mobile

CTI Executive Search | 500 Foothills South Drive, Suite 2 | Sedona, AZ 86336 USA | 928.282.5366


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