Who we are

RTB Leaders

Graham Thiele

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

Click for more information

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

Click for more information

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

Click for more information

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. Email: valerie.verdier(at)ird.fr

Stephan Weise

DDG Research, Bioversity International

Click for more information

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

Click for more information

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

Click for more information

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(a)cgiar.org 

Flagship Project Leaders

Luis Augusto Becerra

Flagship Project 1 Leader: Enhanced genetic resources

Click for more information

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

More

Linkedin Profile

Maria Andrade

Flagship Project 2 Leader: Productive varieties and quality seed

Click for more information

Bio

Maria Andrade has spent the last 22 years working in Mozambique. The first 10 years, she served as a regional cassava and sweetpotato agronomist for the SARRNET and lead a five-year IITA/CIP project on Accelerated Multiplication and Distribution of Planting Materials of Cassava and Sweetpotato. In 2006, she joined CIP to manage the SASHA Southern Africa Sweetpotato Platform. She has released 30 bio-fortified sweetpotato varieties of which 20 are drought tolerant. Maria serves as CIP’s country manager, SASHA breeder for Southern Africa & Asia, over and above her scientific leadership role. Maria served as the vice president for fund raising for the ISTRC global for five years. She was on the board of Directors of Alliance for Green Revolution, in Africa, on the Board of Micronutrient Forum and a Member of External Panel review of NextGen Cassava. She is also a member of the high-level group of champions for the Food Forever Initiative. Key recognitions include: in 2013 she was named a Nutrition Champion by Transform Nutrition, received an appreciation award from ISTRC-AB for her outstanding leadership and contribution on RTC in Africa, outstanding Alumnus award from NCSU, 2016 World Food Prize co-laureate, 2017 Swaminathan Award for Environmental Protection,  nominated as one of the 5th Wonder Women of Agriculture by USDA, March, 2018, and the 2018 Cape Verdean Woman of the Year in July 7th, 2018. Email: M.Andrade(at)cgiar.org

James Legg

Flagship Project 3 Leader: Resilient crops

Click for more information

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  

More

Linkedin Profile

Tawanda Muzhingi

Flagship Project 4 Leader: Nutritious food and added value

Click for more information

Bio

Tawanda Muzhingi is a Zimbabwean citizen working with the International Potato Center (CIP) as a Regional Food Scientist at CIP Regional Office for Africa, Nairobi, Kenya. At CIP, Tawanda supports country and regional programs with food science, nutrition, value addition, technology transfer and manages the Food and Nutritional Evaluation Laboratory (FANEL) platform that includes a test kitchen and sensory laboratory. Before joining CIP, Tawanda worked for 10 years at the Jean Mayer United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Services (ARS) Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA. Tawanda obtained his Ph.D. Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition and M.S. Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, MA, USA and Bachelor of science degree in Nutrition from the University of Zimbabwe. Tawanda’s research interests are in food-based strategies to address micronutrient malnutrition and technology transfer for economic empowerment in developing countries.

Marc Schut

Flagship Project 5 Leader: Improved livelihoods at scale

Click for more information

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

Bettina Heider

RTB Focal Point at CIP

Click for more information

Bio

Bettina Heider is a genetic resources specialist at the International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima, Peru. Her research revolves around agrobiodiversity conservation, its utilization and the importance of socio-cultural aspects on plant genetic resources conservation in Latin America, Southeast-Asia, and Africa. Her work involves screening sweet potato germplasm and crop wild relative species in search of priority traits useful for plant breeding. In her role as leader of the in situ research initiative at CIP she coordinates the monitoring of in situ potato and sweetpotato diversity, investigates socio-cultural impacts on in situ diversity conservation, and promotes the establishment of benefit sharing schemes for custodian farmers. She has carried out several plant collecting missions for subsequent ex situ conservation including American yam bean - one of the Andean Root and Tuber Crops maintained at CIP. Bettina holds a doctorate degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Hohenheim, Germany. Email: B.Heider(at)cgiar.org

Luis Augusto Becerra

RTB Focal Point at CIAT

Click for more information

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

Nicolas Roux

RTB Focal Point at Bioversity International

Click for more information

Bio

Nicolas Roux, a Belgian citizen, joined Bioversity International in May 2003. As Senior Scientist, he leads the Musa Genetic Resources Team. As focal point, he is representing Bioversity International in the RTB CRP and Genebanks-Platform, and ensures that the activities related to the Global Musa collection (ITC) are maintained at the International standard level. He coordinates the Global Musa Genetic Resources Network (MusaNet, www.musanet.org). He is also the scientific liaison officer for France to assure long term partnership with Agricultural Research Organizations based in France.    His main interest is in genetic resources and more specifically in the conservation and use of vegetatively propagated crops. 32 years’ experience in research on bananas and plantains (Musa spp.) from plant to tissue culture, cell culture, Mutation breeding, cytogenetics, and DNA sequences. He started his career, involved in projects related to the management of genetic resources, with emphasis on Musa spp (bananas). In Venezuela (1988-1993), he managed a tropical fruits plantation and an industrial tissue culture laboratory. As Research Scientist (1993-2003), he worked at FAO/IAEA Laboratories in Vienna on cellular biology and biotechnology including mutation techniques to support conventional breeding programs. He obtained the degree of Agriculture Engineer in Agricultural Sciences (MSc) at the Superior Industrial Institute of the State, Huy- Gembloux-Verviers, Belgium in 1987 and his PhD on  Botany and Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Palacky University Olomouc, Czech Republic in 2002.    Nicolas is adviser to the FAO/IAEA Coordinated Research Project entitled “Molecular tools for quality improvement in vegetatively propagated crops including banana and cassava”. Nicolas is a member of the CGIAR Clonal Crops Task Force in charge of refining and standardization of storage procedures for clonal crops. Between 2003 and 2014, he was the Coordinator of the Global Musa Genomics Consortium (GMGC) which was one of the major drivers behind the concluded sequencing of the Musa genome published in Nature in 2012. He also has overseen work done in cacao and coconut genetic resources conservation and use. With the development of CGIAR Research Programme on Roots Tubers and Banana (CRP-RTB), Nicolas was nominated leader of Theme 1: Conserving and assessing Genetic Resources during its first phase.   Email: n.roux(at)cgiar.org

James Legg

RTB Focal Point at IITA

Click for more information

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

Click for more information

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