New Head of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation

Ugandan Dr Denis Tumwesigye Kyetere has been appointed the Executive Director at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF). Dr Kyetere will assume office on 1 January 2012.

“Dr Kyetere brings with him a wealth of experience in hands on agricultural research and management gained from working with both public and private  sector partnership projects at Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO)’’ said AATF Board Chair Prof Idah Sithole-Niang, when she made the announcement to staff and management in Nairobi recently.

‘’This experience will be of great benefit to AATF whose mission involves working through partnerships to deliver on its key mandate of accessing and delivering affordable agricultural technologies for use by smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa” Prof Idah added.

Dr Kyetere grew up in a mixed cattle keeping and crop growing homestead. Denis is a Geneticist and a Plant Breeder, with a PhD from The Ohio State University (OSU), Ohio, USA; an MSc in plant breeding from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth College, UK and a BSc (Hons) in Botany and Zoology from Makerere University, Uganda.

Some of Dr Kyetere’s notable scientific achievements include being part of the team that identified and mapped the maize streak virus gene 1 (MSV1) that confers tolerance in maize to maize streak virus disease.  He was also part of the team that developed the maize variety, Longe 1 that was the second successful maize variety to be produced and grown in Uganda, occupying about 60% of the total maize production during 1999.

Dr Kyetere previously served as the Director General at NARO, the overall organ managing the national agricultural research system of Uganda. He began his career as a scientific officer and maize agronomist in 1979 at NARO’s Kawanda Research Station. He later worked as a maize breeder on several projects in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT). He later served at NARO in different capacities including, head of the maize programme, programme leader, cereals and director of research at Coffee Research Institute. During his tenure, the institute developed and delivered to farmers wilt resistant clones of robusta coffee.

Dr Kyetere’s leadership and management experience spans across various organisations, including the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) where he served as chairman of the Board. He also chaired the Eastern and Central Africa Maize and Wheat Research Network (ECAMAW) and the Coffee Research Network (CORNET) both of ASARECA. He has also attended a number of leadership programs including the Harvard Business School Senior Leadership Program in the USA.

In accepting his appointment, Dr Kyetere said he is privileged to be joining AATF and looks forward to working with the team to help address the constraints facing smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr Kyetere will be taking over from Dr Jacob Mignouna, the organisation’s Technical Operations Director who has been acting in the position during the Board’s selection process.

Dr Mignouna said that Denis has been a friend of AATF while at NARO, where he also served as the first chairperson of the Executive Advisory Board of AATF’s Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project and he will bring his vast experience to the organisation. “Dr Kyetere is an old hand in the management of agricultural research and he is familiar with the AATF work, an aspect that will enable him to onboard quickly and guide the Foundation’s progress into the future”.

Dr Kyetere has published widely in peer-reviewed scientific journals, mainly in his area of genetics and plant breeding.

He holds several honors, among which is the 2008 International Alumni Award from The College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, OSU, Ohio, USA.

Source: Africa Science News – 9 Dec 2011