I am Josephine Tafadzwa Pasipanodya, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Namibia. I am a Zimbabwean national, and a recipient of the MoBreed scholarship which I applied for and was fortunately awarded in 2017.
The crop of my research focus is bambara groundnut [Vigna subterranea (L.) Verdc], an orphan crop widely produced in drier parts of Africa mostly by women. My particular interest is on its genetic diversity assessment and enhancement for semi-arid production environments using conventional and genomic-assisted approaches. Bambara groundnut is a crop of agronomic, nutritional and socio-economic importance amongst the rural population owing to its drought tolerance, high protein, and energy levels as well as income generated from selling the grain. Its drought tolerance levels make it possible for the crop to produce yield under marginalized conditions thereby contributing to crop diversification and food security. Thus, it is an important crop for the mitigation of climate change effects. The crop is an affordable plant-based protein and there exists a potential for value-addition through processing into various products such as flour, milk, etc. The MoBreed scholarship has enabled me to have decent upkeep through the monthly stipend. Academically, I have managed to undertake field and laboratory-based research trials and have acquired skills through International training in molecular-assisted breeding. To date, I have managed to assemble germplasm from different agro-ecologies and characterized it under prevailing conditions of Namibia, a typical hot-dry environment. Further, I have gained an insight into the production practices, varietal demands and perceived challenges to bambara production in Namibia. All in all, the research seeks to identify high yielding varieties that can address the needs of the subsistence farmers, and to upscale the productivity of bambara groundnut to meet future production demands.Finally, my appreciation is extended to: MoBreed for the full scholarship; Supervisors Prof Levi Akundabweni, Professor Julia Sibiya and Professor Enoch Achigan-Dako for their guidance; University of Namibia Crop Science Department and Estate services for hosting the student and her research; Mashare Agriculture Development Institute (MADI) for hosting the field experiment; Breeders community in Africa, UK and IITA for germplasm used; MAWF extension staff and Regional councils in north central and east Namibia for facilitating farmer led participatory breeding and BECA-ILRI IGSS for genotyping services and training in MAS. Friends and family are thanked for their financial support and encouragement.