Dr. Kenneth Fafa Egbadzor

My first day in school was very dramatic. My mother was not in support with the explanation that I was too young for school. I bath myself, picked up a kitchen stool and off I went to school. To be accepted to class one you have to be able to hold your ear with the opposite hand. A short boy that I was there was no possibility my hand could hold it without bending the head, a practice that was not accepted.

Surprisingly, I held mine with my hand through the back of my neck but the teacher in charge did not object. Rising to each higher level along the academic ladder was characterized with challenges and frustrations. But the enemy is forever a liar.

During my early school days, I was just interested in anything mathematics. I read agriculture in school because I had no alternative. However, I like farming and in fact, I had my first personal farm at the age of twelve. I always wanted to plant something that was not in my mother’s farm. The course that interested me most in the university was genetics and I had my best grade in it in the first year.  Plant breeding is the best choice combining my interest in crops and genetics. I love to see my plants.

I had both my BSc (Agriculture) and MPhil (Crop Science) from the University of Ghana and Post Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Cape Coast. I also had short training in Biotechnology at ICRISAT, India and Sfax, Tunisia.

I taught for five years at senior high school level after my first degree. Prior to that, I taught intermittently, at the local junior high school of my hometown. Currently, I am a Research Scientist of the Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ghana. My division at the institute is responsible for pre-breeding of our plant genetic resources. I hope to be a plant breeder for life.

There are always challenges facing crop production. The topical issues are global warming, erratic rainfall patterns, biotic and abiotic stress and these problems have to be considered in all breeding programmes. The effort of the breeder as well as the farmer is in vain if the crop harvested is not accepted by the consumer; this is what brings in the issue of end-user trait. My breeding goals would be to produce crops that cope with changing environmental conditions and yet meet consumer taste. I would particularly be interested in participatory breeding where I would have the opportunity to have maximum and continuous interaction with farmers.

My crop of choice is cowpea for its apparent multifunctional importance in West Africa. The short gestation period of cowpea is one of its advantages when used to address hunger issues. Currently, I am studying the inheritance of seed size and testa pigmentation in the crop. These two traits, seed size and colour have great influence on the marketability and consumption of cowpea in Ghana. The ability to incorporate desirable seed size and colour into adapted cowpea varieties would make new varieties acceptable to farmers and consumers.