Dr. Essegbemon Akpo has expertise in Plant production, Seed systems, Innovation studies, Participatory action research, and Multi-stakeholder processes. He graduated with Master and PhD degrees from “Université d’Abomey-Calavi, UAC”, Benin and Wageningen University (WUR), Netherlands, Respectively. He previously worked for Benin National Agricultural Research Institute as Junior Scientist, and GRAD Consulting Group as Seed and Innovation Platform Expert. His experiences in agricultural research for development covered improved seed access facilitation for smallholder farmers, connection between biophysical, social and institutional landscapes, participatory technology development, innovation platform support, capacity building for farmers’ organizations, youth and women. He earned several academic awards from UAC and WUR that permitted him to pursue graduate studies. Dr Akpo works for ICRISAT as seed systems scientist. He also teaches seed and plant production at “Université Nationale d’Agriculture, UNA”, Benin, capacitating young generation in quality seed delivery to farming communities. Dr Akpo published dozens of papers.
Dr. Chris Ojiewo is a skilled scientist with over fifteen years professional experiences in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia on basic, applied, and adaptive plant breeding and seed systems research and development aimed at developing and delivering high yielding, nutrient dense, climate-smart, market-preferred varieties of vegetables, legumes and cereals. Promotion of vegetable-legume-cereal-livestock based family garden intensification systems, improving productivity and profitability for smallholder farmers, gender equity, youth empowerment, nutrition security, knowledge sharing and solving the perpetual problem of food and nutrition insecurity of resource-poor smallholder farmers, especially women and youth in rural and peri-urban semi-arid tropics are core to his sense of purpose. Together with various co-workers, he has researched and published over 100 scientific, technical and policy articles in his area of expertise. Chris obtained both M.Sc and PhD in Plant breeding from Okayama University, Japan; and his BSc. (1st Class) in Horticulture from JKUAT, Nairobi, Kenya.
Dr. Issoufou Kapran is Senior Scientist-Seed Systems Specialist at the West and Central Africa Regional Hub of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Previously, he was Seed Officer and Coordinator for the West Africa Program of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He helped more than 40 seed companies and cooperatives of West Africa improve their technical capacity and financial leverage towards greater farmer access to quality seeds of improved varieties. Dr. Kapran’s career started as a sorghum breeder and program leader at the “Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN)”. He released several varieties and hybrids, launched a seed unit, and co-organized the first West African Hybrid Sorghum and Pearl Millet Seed Workshop in Niamey, Niger. Dr. Kapran holds a PhD in plant breeding from Purdue University in the USA, and later a Distinguished Alumnus Award by the same university.
Dr. Lucky Osabuohien Omoigui graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria. He is a Plant Breeder/Seed Systems Expert working at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Kano, Nigeria. He has more than 80 peer reviewed international publications and has delivered numerous oral and posters presentations in many international meetings. Dr. Omoigui is currently leading the cowpea seed delivery component of the Accelerated Varietal Improvement and Seed Delivery of Legumes and Cereals in Africa (AVISA) project. Prior to joining IITA, Dr. Omoigui worked as a Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics at the Department of Plant Breeding and Seed Science, Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi. He was awarded Arthur Anderson Best Graduating student. He received Recognition for Excellent Research contribution to West Africa Cowpea Consortium. He was also recognized as Outstanding Researcher at the University of Agriculture Makurdi. He is a Member of Agronomy/Crop Science Society of America.
Agathe Diama is the Head of Regional Information for ICRISAT, West and Central Africa Programme. She is based in Bamako, Mali where she coordinates and oversees the implementation of communication activities for ICRISAT-WCA. Agathe is a graduate from the University of Bamako in Sociology and Anthropology. She holds also a Diploma in journalism from the Institute Jesse Louis Jackson, a Master degree in Economic and social administration from the “Institut Supérieur de Technologies Appliquées (TechnoLAB-ISTA)”, Bamako, and a specialized MBA in Communication from ESG Group, Paris. Agathe has worked previously with the Voice of America (VOA) and with the International Finance Corporation – IFC (World Bank Group) as a Communication specialist. Since joining ICRISAT as lead regional communication in West and Central Africa, Agathe Diama is currently the Regional Coordinator of ICRISAT’s Smart Food campaign in West and Central Africa as well.
Prof. Rajeev K Varshney, an agricultural scientist, is Research Program Director, Genetic Gains at ICRISAT. He has over 20 years research experience in international agriculture. Before joining ICRISAT, he worked at IPK-Gatersleben, Germany. He provided strategic leadership, as Principal Investigator for Tropical Legumes II and Tropical Legumes III projects that facilitated the release of 177 varieties touching 11.2 million lives in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Prof. Varshney is recognized as a leader in genome-sequencing, genomics-assisted breeding, translational genomics and capacity building in international agriculture. He has genome sequences of 9 crops and several molecular breeding products in legume crops to his credit. Prof. Varshney, a highly prolific author and a frequent invited speaker is an elected Fellow of several leading international and Indian academies/ societies. He provides leadership by serving as member/chair for several committees, editorial boards, funding organizations and advisory boards in international agriculture research, development and capacity building.