Three Zimbabwean plant breeders have been named among the top 20 most influential in the field across Africa.
These are Dr Ephrame Havazvidi, group research manager Seed Co Zimbabwe; Dr Geoffrey Hilderbrand of Klein Karoo Seed Zimbabwe and Dr Cosmos Magorokosho of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre in Zimbabwe.
Their names were published recently in the Southern African Plant Breeders’ Association list which has 20 internationally renowned plant breeders.
Dr Havazvidi, who has won numerous awards in the past, has been a plant breeder for Seed Co for several decades.
He has developed numerous plant crop varieties and oversaw all farm activities at Rattray Arnold Research Station.
Since 1982, he has released more than 25 high performing varieties of wheat that have significantly impacted wheat productivity in Zimbabwe and Sadc countries.
Dr Havazvidi received his PhD from the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Zimbabwe.
Dr Hilderbrand has made an immense contribution to the improvement of groundnut seed varieties in Zimbabwe and other semi-arid regions of the world.
For nearly 15 years, he was responsible for managing the groundnut breeding programme at the Crop Breeding Institute at the Department of Research within the Agriculture Ministry before he joined the Commercial Farmer’s Union in 1987 where he advised commercial farmers on all aspects of groundnut commercial and seed production.
Dr Hilderbrand is the plant breeder at Klein Karoo Seed Marketing Zimbabwe where he has been working since 2008 after a 14-year stint with Seed Co Zimbabwe.
He is renowned for his work in groundnut, sugar bean, cowpea and sorghum plant breeding programmes at the SADC/ICRISAT groundnut project and ICRISAT, Hyderabad.
Dr Magorokosho is a maize breeder and country representative for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre in Zimbabwe and has vast experience in the development, promotion and deployment of drought tolerant maize varieties for resource challenged farmers in marginal areas, mainly in southern Africa but also in East and West Africa.
He has also been involved in capacity building activities for young and senior maize breeders and maize technicians participating in maize improvement in the public as well as the private seed sector.
Other notable plant breeders who were named in the top 20 list include: Martin Alberts (Bayer, South Africa), Joseph Beyene, (CIMMYT, Kenya), Phyllis Burger (ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij, South Africa) Taaibos Human, (ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij, South Africa), Francois Koekemoer (Syngenta, South Africa), Anthony Jarvie (Corteva South Africa), Richard Lubbe (Starke Ayres, South Africa) and Sunette Laurie (ARC-VOPI, South Africa).
The director of Development and Delivery Office of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Alfred Dixon and two other IITA scientists – Abebe Menkir and John Derera of Nigeria were also among the top 20 most influential plant breeders in Africa.