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Job Alert: Head of Breeding at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)


The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is a not-for-profit institution that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation.

Working with various partners across sub-Saharan Africa, we improve livelihoods, enhance food and nutrition security, increase employment, and preserve natural resource integrity. IITA is a member of CGIAR, a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future.

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We are recruiting to fill the position below:

Job Title: Head of Breeding

Ref: DDG-R4D/HB/12/19)
Location: Ibadan, Oyo



  • IITA has successful breeding programs on six very important crops in sub-Saharan Africa: cassava, yam, banana/plantain, maize, soybean and cowpea. In recent years, these have been reviewed based on the Breeding Program Assessment Tool (BPAT) (
  • The programs have also had extensive interaction with the CGIAR Excellence in Breeding (EiB) platform during which crop specific and cross cutting (institutional) improvement plans have been developed along with product profiles and market segmentation analyses. Implementing these plans will require a strong focus on step changes to improve efficiency of breeding and delivery of increased rates of variety turnover and genetic gain.
  • This has been identified as a high priority by IITA and the appointee will play an important role in prioritizing future investments at the Institute within the Crops to End Hunger initiative. IITA seeks a senior plant breeder with commercial plant breeding and people management experience to lead modernisation of all IITA breeding programs and to facilitate the institutional changes that will allow this to occur in an effective and efficient manner. The appointee will report to the Deputy Director General for Research-for-Development.

Position Responsibilities
The Head of Breeding will:

  • Align breeding focus and operational resources to validated breeding targets.
  • Establish a crop advancement agenda in partnership with breeders of the IITA mandate crops and the product manager.
  • Establish specific metrics for variety and trait advancements for each crop.
  • Establish metrics for population improvements within the breeding program.
  • Modify breeding structure of each crop to deliver demand driven products at the lowest cost.
  • Establish a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Improve breeding strategy for all six mandate crops.
  • Lead breeding teams to design and implement breeding strategies.
  • Work closely with the product manager and cross-functional product teams to define targets for the breeding programs to develop breeding strategy.
  • Work with breeders to strengthen collaboration with national breeding programs and other relevant stakeholders (e.g. seed companies, input suppliers, etc.)
  • Define investment plans and mobilize increased resources for crop breeding.
  • Facilitate establishment of collaborative research with advanced research institutions.
  • Serve as the focal point of IITA’s interactions with the Excellence in Breeding platform.
  • Connect IITA resources in design, engineering and operations to develop highly effective product development teams.

Educational Qualifications

  • The candidate should have a finalised PhD in Plant Breeding, Genetics or related field.

Core Competencies:

  • At least 15 years of experience in plant breeding programs (with at least 10 years in the private sector) at progressively higher levels of responsibility.
  • Evidence of significant management skills including change management and management of successful breeding teams.
  • Ability to work well in a diverse multicultural environment.
  • Excellent interpersonal and organizational skills.
  • Evidence of experience in resource mobilization.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Ability to build consensus/function as part of a team.

The contract will be for an initial period of three years. IITA offers an internationally competitive remuneration package paid in US Dollars.

Application Closing Date
14th January, 2020.

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Method of Application
Interested applicants should complete the online application below, attaching detailed Cover Letter and Curriculum Vitae saved with their names in Microsoft word. The application must include the names and e-mail addresses of three professional referees which must include the applicant’s current or previous direct Supervisor, a professional colleague and evidence of current remuneration package.

Click here to apply online

Click here for more Information (PDF)


  • IITA is an equal opportunity employer and particularly welcomes applications from women candidates
  • Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

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