Who we are

RTB Leaders

Graham Thiele

Program Director, CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas

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Bio

Graham Thiele, PhD, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers, and Bananas (RTB). Graham is a social scientist and expert in targeting, priority setting, and impact and adoption studies of new agricultural technologies. He spent 17 years with the International Potato Center (CIP), most recently as the Leader for Social and Health Sciences. Graham has worked in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Tanzania, Kenya, Benin, Rwanda, Indonesia, and the Philippines. He helped develop, implement, and assess several, novel participatory methodologies designed to link farmers with markets, inform research agendas, and promote innovation in policies, products, and technology uptake. Graham holds a PhD in Social Anthropology and an MSc in Agricultural Economics. Email: g.thiele(at)cgiar.org

Oscar Ortiz

DDG Development, International Potato Center

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Bio

Oscar Ortiz is the Deputy Director General for Development of the International Potato Center (CIP). He began his career at CIP in 1992 working on impact assessment of integrated pest management as a member of the Social Sciences Department. He was then appointed leader of the Integrated Crop Management Research Division from 2004 to 2011. During 2012 he was the leader of the Integrated Crop and systems Research Global Program, and he was appointed Deputy Director of Research for Regional Science Programs. He has ten years of experience in leading and managing interdisciplinary teams involving both biophysical and Social Sciences. Vast experience in participatory research and training related to integrated insect and disease control, integrated crop management (ICM), agronomy and seed management; impact assessment of research and extension activities; use of the agricultural knowledge and information systems, and of innovation system approaches for research and development; leading seed-related teams on potato and sweetpotato as part of ICM-related research and development; research related to innovation systems. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and conference proceedings. Oscar holds a PhD in agricultural innovation and rural development from the University of Reading.
Email: o.ortiz@cgiar.org
 
 

Valérie Verdier

IRD Research Director

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Bio

Valérie Verdier is the Research Director at IRD. CIRAD and IRD work in close relationship, the objective is to strength their partnership in countries and on topics where they have mutual interest and through colleagues and partners in respective or mutual research units.

Stephan Weise

DDG Research, Bioversity International

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Bio

Stephan Weise is Deputy Director General for Research at Bioversity International. He is in his 4th year at Bioversity International, where he initially managed the Commodities for Livelihoods Programme, developing commodity-based innovation system approaches; promoting the emergence of a culture of innovation at the local level; encouraging the sharing of knowledge, information and technologies across stakeholders; and integrating the generation of income with sustainable natural resource management practices. He also worked for 16 years with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on a variety of programmes in West and Central Africa linked to enhancing productivity of smallholder farming systems, systems diversity and sustainability, and public-private partnership and innovation platforms. Stephen holds a PhD in agricultural sciences from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. Email: s.weise(at)cgiar.org

Joe Tohme

Agrobiodiversity Research Area Director, CIAT

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Bio

Joe Tohme is currently the leader of the Agrobiodiversity and Biotechnology project at CIAT. He helped set up the CIAT molecular markers lab and implement the molecular characterization of genetic diversity and mapping of agronomical traits in bean, cassava, rice, and Brachiaria. His expertise is in plant breeding and biotechnology.  Joe has a Ph.D. in Crop Science from Michigan State University.  Email: j.tohme@cgiar.org

Robert Asiedu

R4D Director, IITA

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Bio

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 is a plant breeder, whose main research interest is on tropical root and tuber crops, especially yam and cassava. From the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) he joined the Root and Tuber Improvement Program of IITA in 1989. His initial research was on cassava and its wild relatives but he spent most of his time on yam research. He has held various leadership or management roles in IITA since 1991. Robert holds a PhD degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Adelaide, Australia. Email: r.asiedu@cgiar.org 

Flagship Project Leaders

Luis Augusto Becerra

Flagship Project 1 Leader: Enhanced genetic resources

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Bio

Luis Augusto Becerra is the leader of Flagship Project 1 on ‘Enhanced genetic resources’, and a Principal Research Scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), in charge of leading the Cassava Program. Since 2009, he has been the leader of the Cassava Molecular and Quantitative Genetics Laboratory at CIAT. In this role, and in 7 years, he assembled and managed a professional research team of up to 30 researchers. In 2012, his achievements earned him the distinctive designation of Global Leader for Development of Varieties for the CGIAR Research Program on Root, Tubers and Bananas. As a Global Leader, he developed a research agenda to deployed transformative tools for accelerating breeding across five crop systems. In 2014, he was appointed as Editorial Board Members of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Email: l.a.becerra@cgiar.org

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Elmar Schulte-Geldermann

Flagship Project 2 Leader: Adapted productive varieties and quality seed

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Bio

Elmar Schulte-Geldermann is the Program Leader: CIP Strategic Objective 3-Seed Potato for Africa and RTB’s Flagship Project 2 Leader. Elmar’s scientific and management expertise spans seed systems, rapid propagation technologies, seed degeneration, germplasm evaluation, integrated pest and disease management, soil fertility and soil health management, project and program management. Since 2009 he has been Principal Investigator or co-PI of 12 bilaterally funded projects ($US 22m) covering 8 sub-Saharan Africa countries, reaching more than 350,000 farming households. Scientific supervision to projects inclusive of significant contribution to successful proposal development to 12 further projects with a value of $US 17.5m. Member of CIP Executive Committee (2016), CIP Science Leader Team (2014 - present) and the SSA Regional Management Team (2014 - present).

James Legg

Flagship Project 3 Leader: Resilient crops

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Bio

James Legg is RTB’s Flagship Project 3 Leader and a principal scientist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), with 25 years’ experience of working on plant viruses and their insect vectors. Most of James’ professional career has focused on strengthening understanding of cassava viruses, and using that improved understanding to develop and facilitate the promotion of control strategies. In addition to playing a direct active role in research, James has also contributed to strengthening African science capacity through producing training materials, leading training workshops and supervising post-graduate students. James has been based at the IITA East Africa hub in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for the last ten years, and he has been involved in running several regional R4D projects focused on cassava viruses, their whitefly vectors and the development and implementation of sustainable seed systems. Recently, James has played an increasing role in managing research on roots, tubers and bananas, and he is currently IITA’s focal point for RTB as well as the leader for RTB’s Flagship Project 3. Email: j.legg(at)cgiar.org  

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Simon Heck

Flagship Project 4 Leader: Nutritious food and added value

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Bio

Simon Heck is RTB’s Flagship Project 4 Leader and a Program Leader at the International Potato Center (CIP) where he oversees the Center’s sweetpotato research and development programs in 20 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Simon has more than 30 years experience in agricultural, social and policy research with the CGIAR, IUCN, DFID, and Boston University. His current research includes assessing the scalability of integrated agriculture-nutrition-market interventions promoting orange-fleshed sweetpotato and other nutritious crops. As a research manager, he oversees food science, post-harvest and nutrition research to diversify the utilization of sweetpotato for nutrition and incomes. Simon holds a PhD in Anthropology from Boston University and is currently based with CIP in Uganda.

Marc Schut

Flagship Project 5 Leader: Improved livelihoods at scale

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Bio

Marc Schut is RTB’s Flagship Project 5 Leader and a social scientist working with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation group of Wageningen University (WUR). Marc is a Dutch national, based in Rwanda. Marc is also Principal Investigator of the CIALCA project (www.cialca.org) that focusses on systems research and development of banana, cassava and potato production systems in Central Africa. Marc's ambition is to conduct action research that enhances innovation and scaling capacities of public and private sector partners and shapes research, development and policy agendas.

Focal Points

Hugo Campos

RTB Focal Point at CIP

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Bio

Hugo Campos is Research Director at the International Potato Center (CIP), and also CIP’s focal point for RTB. He has +25 years of international experience working in several Latin-American countries, US and UK. Most of his professional career has focused on molecular breeding - the intersection between plant breeding and biotechnology - with an explicit goal of delivering superior varieties and increase the efficacy and efficiency of plant breeding programs, and in developing commercially relevant drought tolerant varieties. He is experienced in diverse crop species such as sugarcane, maize, soybeans, canola and wheat. He is an advanced practitioner of topics such as innovation and entrepreneurship from a private standpoint. In addition to playing a direct role leading plant breeding efforts, Hugo has written one book, edited another, and is in the process of editing a third one. He is a Chilean national and holds a Ph.D. from the John Innes Centre, UK and an MBA from Universidad del Desarrollo, Chile.

Luis Augusto Becerra

RTB Focal Point at CIAT

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Bio

Luis Augusto Becerra is the RTB Focal Point at CIAT and  the leader of Flagship Project 1 on ‘Enhanced genetic resources’, and a Principal Research Scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), in charge of leading the Cassava Program. Since 2009, he has been the leader of the Cassava Molecular and Quantitative Genetics Laboratory at CIAT. In this role, and in 7 years, he assembled and managed a professional research team of up to 30 researchers. In 2012, his achievements earned him the distinctive designation of Global Leader for Development of Varieties for the CGIAR Research Program on Root, Tubers and Bananas. As a Global Leader, he developed a research agenda to deployed transformative tools for accelerating breeding across five crop systems. In 2014, he was appointed as Editorial Board Members of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia.   Email: l.a.becerra@cgiar.org

Inge Van den Bergh

RTB Focal Point at Bioversity International

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Bio

Inge Van den Bergh is a Senior Scientist at Bioversity International, specialized in the evaluation of banana diversity. She develops and leads Bioversity’s research agenda in the area of evaluating Musa genetic resources, the  International Musa Testing Program and promoting the use of biodiversity to address priority problems, based on an analysis of agronomic traits, host reaction to biotic and abiotic constraints, post-harvest and nutritional properties. She is also coordinating the ProMusa network, a global platform for sharing information and knowledge on bananas (www.promusa.org). In this role, she promotes effective communication within the banana R4D community, oversees the online banana knowledge resource centre and databases, and is responsible for the organization of international conferences and workshops. Inge graduated as Bio-Engineer from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium in 1997 and obtained a PhD in nematology from the same university in 2002. She has been working for Bioversity since 1997, first as Associate Scientist in Vietnam and the Philippines, then from the Bioversity office in Montpellier, France, and since 2014 based in the Bioversity office in Leuven, Belgium. Email: i.vandenbergh(at)cgiar.org

James Legg

RTB Focal Point at IITA

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Bio

James Legg is a scientist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, with more than 20 years experience of working on plant viruses and their insect vectors. Most of James’ professional career has focused on strengthening understanding of cassava viruses, and using that improved understanding to develop and facilitate the promotion of control strategies. In addition to playing a direct active role in research, James has also contributed to strengthening African science capacity through producing training materials, leading training workshops and supervising post-graduate students. James has been based at IITA East Africa hub in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for the last seven years, and he has been involved in running several regional R4D projects focused on cassava viruses, their whitefly vectors and the development and implementation of sustainable seed systems. Email: j.legg(at)cgiar.org

Dominique Dufour

RTB Focal Point at CIRAD

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Bio

PhD, Researcher in Food Science & Food Engineering, CIRAD (French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development, Montpellier, France), currently out-posted to Fruits & Cassava Programs at CIAT, Cali, Colombia. For over 25 years he has specialized in adding value to cassava, sweet potato, yam, cocoyam, taro, plantain, and minor RTB crops in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. He has studied how consumer preferences affect varietal adoption by farmers and how consumer or end user expectations inform the research process; for example, defining quality requirements for processed RTB products regarding shelf life, texture, nutritional/antinutritional values, and more. Dominique’s research also focuses on equipment for eco-friendly industrial processes using life cycle analysis methodology (especially water and energy use) to bring new products to market with minimum environmental costs. Dominique holds a PhD in Bio-industry, “Enzymatic Engineering, Bioconversion & Microbiology”, from the University of Technology of Compiègne, France. Email: d.dufour(at)cgiar.org