Two decades on, Dr Stephen Mugo exits maize research

After long and distinguished service as a maize breeder and senior manager at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Stephen Mugo has retired from the organization. A Principal Scientist and Maize Breeder at CIMMYT’s Global Maize Program, Mugo also served as CIMMYT’s Country Representative for Kenya and CIMMYT’s Regional Representative for Africa.

He joined CIMMYT in 1998 as a post-doctoral fellow and his last day of work was on May 31, 2020. His colleagues honoured him with memorable tributes at an online meeting held on May 21, 2020.

“Mugo has always demonstrated his commitment and determination, even in the most challenging times, for the benefit of CIMMYT and its staff. He has been a very productive scientist, maize breeder and project leader of several projects that have had a great impact in the past. We are proud of what he has been doing and still does for CIMMYT,” said Director General Martin Kropff.

In his illustrious career, Mugo led the Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa Supplement Project (STMA-SUP) and the TELA Maize Project, both of which aimed at improving maize for drought tolerance and insect pest resistance in five countries in eastern and southern Africa. He was also the CIMMYT leader for the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project (2008-2018), Insect Resistant Maize for Africa (IRMA) project (1999-2004) and the Strengthening Seed Systems project in Kenya and Uganda (2001-2003).

“I leave CIMMYT with fond memories and with my head held high. I sincerely wish to thank my colleagues for being a wonderful team that continues to work hard to ensure that we get the right seed to the farmer,” Mugo said. “I have enjoyed every bit of my time at the organization. What I would request is that for us to continue working well together, we need to respect and treat one another the way you would like to be treated. This way, the organization would move from strength to strength,” he expressed.

Mugo holds a PhD in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Cornell University and has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, with several book chapters to his name.

B.M. Prasanna, Director of the Global Maize Program at CIMMYT and the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) acknowledged the tremendous contribution that Mugo has made over the years in the projects he led.

“His work on the Insect Resistant Maize for Africa (IRMA) project has been phenomenally important, especially some of the germplasm that we are now finding as native genetic resistant to the fall armyworm,” Prasanna remarked. “He is a great champion and tremendous ambassador for CIMMYT’s work in Africa. I am sure he will continue to contribute to CIMMYT for years to come.”

Even though he leaves the stage, Mugo will provide consultancy support to CIMMYT, particularly on the MLN Gene Editing and TELA Maize projects.

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