The Southern African Plant Breeders’ Association (SAPBA), in a recent publication, released a list of the 20 most internationally renowned plant breeders selected from various agricultural research and science development institutions across Africa.
In the association’s published list, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) was seen to outshine other research institutes in Africa, with three of its scientists being recognized amongst the most influential plant breeders on the continent.
The SAPBA was developed through a unification of three separate organizations involved in the promotion of plant breeding. The association works to ensure stable, sustainable agriculture by encouraging pro-active communication amongst private- and public-sector institutions, as well as cooperation and the maintenance of high ethical standards and norms.
To create their list, the association set up a five-member panel, who received 40 nominations from across Africa. The panel then considered and assessed the contributions of each nominee to plant breeding in Africa before they finalized the top 20.
Alfred Dixon, director of the development and delivery office at the IITA, was named alongside two other IITA scientists on the list, Abebe Menkir and John Derera.
Fondly referred to as “Dr. Cassava” by his peers, Dixon is well known for his contributions in cassava development in Africa; he is celebrated for having developed over 400 improved cassava varieties for a range of agro-ecologies and cropping systems on the continent.
In recognition of his meritorious contribution to agriculture in Nigeria, the Nigerian government approved the renaming of one of the six top-performing cassava varieties in the country after him. The variety, which is now known as Dixon, was initially identified as TMS-980581.