MoBreed Intra-Africa Mobility scheme

Title: Enhancing training and research mobility for novel crops breeding in Africa

Intra-Africa Academic Mobility Scheme EACEA/07/2016

With the ever-growing population size, food and nutrition insecurity has become one of the biggest challenges in sub-Saharan Africa while the continent is endowed with a rich agricultural diversity that can be valued to overcome hunger and poverty. Unfortunately, the region is critically short in plant breeders capable to develop cultivars and stimulate seed systems that meet communities’ needs in the face of climate changes. Despite the initiatives to train crop scientists,  many countries still lack skilled and innovative breeders at national research institutions as well as in universities. At academic level, training breeders to improve and exploit the tremendous potential of indigenous crops diversity has rarely attracted researchers until recently. This project MoBreed (Mobility for Breeders in Africa), a consortium of five African universities together with one European technical partner, intends to 1) produce 10 high profile plant breeders (PhD holders) that will address current and future challenges related to climate change and agriculture with focus on 10 promising underutilized plant species of Africa, 2) train a new generation of 30 scientists (MSc holders) with strong capacity to increase knowledge and prospects on the selected orphan crops used in Africa for food and nutrition security and the crop production and seed industry, 3) harmonize seven MSc and six PhD training programmes and research agenda on the use of neglected and underutilized crops to increase resilience of food production systems, 4) enhance collaboration and programmatic agenda among five African higher education institutions that promote neglected and underutilized research and training for agricultural innovations within Africa. MoBreed will increase opportunities in the agribusiness sector and provide opportunities to accelerate the positive transformation of African agriculture.


University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin, Coordinating institution (Prof. Enoch Achigan-Dako)

University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, (Dr. Julia Sibiya)

University of Namibia in Namibia (Prof. Levi Akundabweni)

Jimma University in Ethiopia (Dr. & Dr. Abush

Ebonyi State University in Nigeria, (Prof. Happiness Oselebe)

Montpellier SupAgro in France (technical partner)


Centre for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD)  (Dr. Remi Kahane)

African Orphan Crop Consortium (AOCC)  (Prof. Allen van Denze)

African Plant Breeding Academy (AfPBA) Prof. Rita Mumm

University of Wageningen (Cleome gynandra as role model)

Total budget: Euro 1 453 000 ; duration: 4 years

Gender: 50% females, 50% males

Selected species may include:

Cereals: tef (Eragrostis tef), fonio (Digitaria exilis),

Legumes: kersting’s nut (Macrotyloma geocarpum), lablab (Lablab pupureus),

Fruits: African custard apple (Anonna senegalensis), miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum),

Vegetables: amaranths (Amaranthus spp), Spiderplant (Cleome gynandra), and egusi melon (Citrullus mucosospermus).

About us

MoBreed is an initiative of five public universities from three African regions and one university in Europe to advance knowledge on useful crops of Africa and increase scholars’ capacity in addressing food security. Partners include the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin and Ebonyi State University in Nigeria (West Africa), the Jimma University of Ethiopia (Eastern Africa), the University of Namibia and the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa (Southern Africa), and Montpellier SupAgro in France.

In accordance with the objectives of Intra-Africa program, MoBreed emphasizes on agricultural innovations based on seed biotechnology and plant breeding. Moreover, African Higher Education Institutions face the problem of graduate’s unemployment. These institutions have to tackle this major problem by inculcating in the youth the desire to generate knowledge on new crops, develop new opportunities to reduce food security, and create businesses for themselves. Potential private and public employers will be involved in this initiative so as to appreciate the skills of students developed by MoBreed. The programme will also partner with national and regional incubators, foundations that could support young companies created by MoBreed scholars.

MoBreed, as part of the curriculum and professional mobility of academic staff and students of Master and Ph.D. levels in plant breeding and seed biotechnology, offers a new approach that frontally address the lack of human resources to advance knowledge on orphan crops also known as underutilized species of Africa. MoBreed is committed to train breeders who will develop, improve and promote the aforementioned crops, most of them listed among the 101 underutilized food crops in Africa by the African Orphan Crop Consortium (AOCC). At least ten priority underutilized crops will be promoted by MoBreed. Discover our priority species list.

MoBreed unites its partners around training African young plant breeders in the most advanced theories and technologies for plant breeding to sustain the development of new policies for crop improvement. This includes the latest concepts in plant breeding, quantitative genetics, statistics and experimental design. It also includes accurate and precise trait evaluations, development of appropriate strategies to integrate genomics into breeding programs and experience in identifying and utilizing genomic data and DNA-based markers in breeding programs. The instructors are internationally recognized experts in plant breeding and seed biotechnology. Most of them are part of the African Plant Breeding Academy.

  • Prof Enoch G. Achigan-Dako, Genetics, Biotechnology and Seed Science Unit (GBioS), University of Abomey-Calavi, Republic of Benin,
  • M. Christel Azon, Genetics, Biotechnology and Seed Science Unit (GBioS), University of Abomey-Calavi, Republic of Benin.

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