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Breeding Specialist – East Africa

Kenya (Kenya)

  • Organization: CIMMYT - International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
  • Location: Kenya (Kenya)
  • Grade: Level not specified
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Agriculture and Forestry
  • Closing Date: 2021-03-28

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The Excellence in Breeding Platform (EiB) is a new CGIAR cross-commodity platform that supports the modernization of breeding programs targeting Africa, Asia, and Latin America for greater impact on food and nutrition security, climate change adaptation and development. By providing important outcomes to under-resourced peoples, the CGIAR centers help realize the founding mission of the CGIAR system – they target low-and-middle-income countries for greater impact on food and nutrition security, climate change adaptation and development.

EiB is headquartered at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), with access to state-of-the art facilities at one of the largest CGIAR centers and well-connected with the 15 other sister centers, all known for their high impact on agriculture in developing countries. EiB draws from innovations in CGIAR centers, advanced research institutes and the private sector, providing access to cutting-edge tools, services and best practices, application-oriented training and practical advice.

The EiB is recruiting a Breeding Specialist for East Africa. The holder of the position will support the Excellence in Breeding organization and provide support to CGIAR breeding teams to modernize and make improvements to their breeding operations. Each CGIAR breeding program has developed a modernization plan. It is the successful candidate’s role to support the breeding teams to successfully execute against this plan and to keep the plan updated, including incorporation of new ambitions. He or she will be working with breeders and the Excellence in Breeding team to ensure that higher rates of genetic gain are delivered to farmers in a partnership capacity without formal control over the breeders. Key to this will be to extract the maximum value of these new and proven technologies that are being deployed.

We are seeking a hands-on breeder who have experience broadly in the methodologies of classical plant breeding with an open attitude and interest in learning more about the advanced methods brought to world centers by the EiB team. The Breeding Specialist will drive improvement and modernization of breeding programs across Africa and possibly beyond. While EiB is focused on advanced technologies, much of the daily activities of the Breeding Specialist will be to ensure that breeding fundamentals are being executed properly as opposed to a strict focus on cutting-edge technologies. However, technology will remain critical – for example, the use of predictive tools (molecular markers and various predictive phenotyping tools/methods) or the application of complex applications such as integrating whole genome data, or genomic selection, into the breeding pipeline and forward marker-assisted selection.

It is not necessary for our Breeding Specialists to come into the job with this expertise, as she or he will be learning from and engaging with the team of EiB specialists. The Breeding Specialist will create the bridge between the CGIAR breeders/scientists and the EiB team, as well as specialists from the private sector and advanced research institutes who are participating for knowledge transfer purposes.

The location of this position will be Kenya or Zimbabwe. Significant international travel will be required.

Specific duties:

  • Lead, coordinate, support/sustain targeted improvements within breeding programs by coordinating follow-up on work set into place by EiB.
  • Develop formal product profiles describing the targets of the breeding work for each client, ensuring that product profiles guide selection and crossing decisions.
  • Develop annual advancement meetings for germplasm promotion, including input from all necessary disciplines (socio-economists, marketing, seed systems, etc.) and all regional stakeholders (grower representatives, end user representatives, seed sector).
  • Assist the client in reallocating their resources to optimize their breeding schemes.
  • Set up disciplined processes to follow selection of parental germplasm in a targeted manner, as well as identify and implement ways to overcome resource, logistical, and biological constraints to shorten the breeding cycle time and increase the accuracy of data prior to selection of parents.
  • Identify ways to optimize selection intensity, perhaps by testing more lines or by selecting fewer (more elite) parents.
  • Advise on and adjust selection intensities, ensuring alignment with selection accuracy.
  • Apply improved trial designs and analyses, as well as assist with trial management to increase quality while reducing costs of generating trial data.
  • Seek out more accurate, cheaper and/or faster genotyping through the platform provided by EiB, including implementing standardized EiB workflows (sample tracking, sample presentation, data interpretation, etc.) Help clients make selection decisions based on this data.
  • Work with the application of QA/QC to germplasm through the use of molecular markers.
  • Implement/support maintenance and sustainability processes for improved mechanized EiB solutions that allow for faster or more accurate data generation and collection.
  • Optimize the use of predictive phenotyping tools.
  • Introduce improved data management systems which may require moving all breeding data to a professional data management system.
  • Free up breeders’ time by assisting client scientists so that they can give their time and attention to ensuring EiB improvements success in their programs.
  • Participate in EiB team commitments (meetings, workshops), including attending various face-to-face meetings to include EiB events and center visits by EiB specialists, as well as weekly EiB virtual team meetings.

Required academic qualifications, skills and attitudes:

  • D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics, Quantitative Genetics, with more than 4 years of relevant experience post PhD.
  • An excellent knowledge of breeding with practical work experience in a breeding program and an interest in or understanding of advanced methods (e.g. genomic selection).
  • Good reporting and communication skills in English (working language).
  • A team player with strong interpersonal communication skills, able to work in a multicultural environment, with excellent leadership and people management skills.
  • Good organization skills and an understanding of the importance of planning and supporting all EiB initiatives.
  • Experience in teaching and a deep interest in staff development, both in technical and non-technical areas.
  • The selected candidate must exhibit the following competencies: Teamwork, Problem Solving and Decision Making, Client Orientation and effective partnership building.

The position is for an initial fixed-term of three (3) years, after which further employment is subject to performance and the continued availability of funds. CIMMYT’s internationally competitive salary and benefits include housing allowance, comprehensive health and life insurance, assistance for children’s education, paid vacation, annual airfare, contribution to a retirement plan, and generous assistance with relocation shipment.

Candidates must apply online to IRS19141_Breeding Specialist – East Africa. Screening and follow up will begin on Friday August 28th, 2020. Applications must include a CV and a cover letter. Incomplete applications will not be taken into consideration. For further information on the selection process, please contact Yessica Castillo (

Please note that only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

This position will remain open until filled.

CIMMYT is an equal opportunity employer. It fosters a multicultural work environment that values gender equality, teamwork, and respect for diversity. Women are encouraged to apply.

We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

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