HarvestPlus, the organization leading global effort to end hidden hunger, has given an award to Dr Alfred Dixon, known by his peers as “Dr. cassava,” and currently Project Leader for the Cassava Weed Management Project/Head, Project Coordination Office at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in recognition of his outstanding performance towards the rapid development of provitamin A cassava varieties in Nigeria.
The award was given to Dr Dixon during the HarvestPlus- organized annual crop meeting held in Abuja 22-23 September. The organization also honored one of its own – Dr Wolfgang Pfeiffer, Deputy Director (Operations), HarvestPlus. IITA Cassava Breeder, Dr Peter Kulakow; and the Executive Director, National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike , Dr. J.C. Okonkwo, were also given awards.
Dr Dixon, a Cassava Breeder, started his career as a Postdoctoral Fellow at IITA (1989―1990), an Associate Scientist (1991―1994), a Scientist in Cassava Breeding/Genetics (1994―2008). He had a break and returned as Project Leader, Cassava Weed Management Project/ Head, Project Coordination Office (2013-present).
In his career with IITA, Dr Dixon led the development of over 300 improved cassava varieties most of which were introduced to over 30 countries in Africa and helped the continent to increase production. Dr Dixon also pioneered the development of provitamin A cassava varieties. In reference to the contribution of Dr Dixon, Dr Pfeiffer referred to him as “being instrumental to the development of yellow cassava varieties that are agrononomically superior.”
In 2008, Dr Dixon left IITA to serve as the pioneer Director General of the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI), Freetown, Sierra Leone. He had worked at the Crop Science Department, Njala University College, University of Sierra Leone as a Research and Teaching Assistant (1981―1982), Graduate Research Assistant (1985―1988), and a Postdoctoral Research Associate (1988―1989) with the Sorghum Breeding Project of the Department of Agronomy, Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, USA.
Dr Dixon is a team player and has trained, inspired, and mentored more than 300 national scientists and technicians to add value to the food security drive of governments to ensure food security. Most of his trainees are today in leadership positions. He is often referred to as the “Father of Cassava in Africa.” In recognition of his contribution to the development of the cassava sector in Nigeria, he was awarded a traditional chieftaincy title in Nigeria.
Dr. Dixon has published more than 200 articles in international journals. He holds a PhD in Agronomy (1988), an MSc in Genetics (1985) from Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA; and a BSc in Agriculture (1981) from Njala University College, University of Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone.
Other stakeholders honored at the event were farmers and processors. They included Pius Ojoawo (JDPM Oyo), Mrs. Rachael Afolabi (SAWEC), Mr. Abiodun Akinbode (OYSADEP), Mr. Emmanuel Nnabuihe (Development Dynamics), Mrs. Ego Amaeke (Forward Africa), Uwen Ita Etuk (AKSU), Barr Eliel Isaac (AKADEP), Matilda Inyang (HEMADEP), Mr. Micheal Nse Ita (JDPC Uyo), Mr. Boniface Eyimoga (NOA), Mr. Daniel Akase (BNARDA), and Mrs. Biishi Mnena (RAPAC). END
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