Lupakisyo Mwakyusa

Lupakisyo Mwakyusa is an MSc Student in Crop Science (Plant Breeding) in the Department of Crop Science and Horticulture at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) based in Morogoro, Tanzania.  He joined the program during the academic year 2020/2021 where he also became a scholar of the Climate-smart African rice Project. He is currently employed as a Research Assistant at the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) Kihinga Center in the Kigoma Region.

Supervisors: Dr. Newton L. Kilasi (SUA), Dr. Richard R. Madege (SUA), Dr. Shalabh Dixit (IRRI) and Dr. Max Herzog (University of Copenhagen).

Read Lupakisyo's Publications

Lupakisyo's research is entitled "Characterizing selected rice genotypes' tolerance to anaerobic stress during germination" where he screened 200 rice genotypes. Among these 10 were found to tolerate flooding during germination demonstrating significant survival and growth highly supported by greater genomic estimated breeding values. These particular genotypes were then considered potential donors for resilience breeding in overcoming flooding stress for direct-seeded rice.

Paulo Sulle Michael

Paulo is an MSc graduate from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) where he was honored a scholarship from the Climate-smart African rice Project. This opportunity provided him with a deep understanding of the effects of flooding on rice farming in Tanzania. His research concentrated on the flood stress in lowland rice and mapping spatiotemporal patterns of flood hotspots in Kilombero and Lower-Rufuji River basins of Tanzania. 

His methodology included conducting farmer surveys and analyzing satellite images to comprehend the spatiotemporal patterns of floods. His studies revealed that floods pose substantial challenges to rice cultivation, necessitating stronger support systems for farmers, such as early warning systems and flood-resistant rice varieties. 

In addition to his research, Paulo is currently serving as a tutorial assistant at the Department of Soil and Geological Sciences, a job acquired during his MSc studies.

Supervisors: Dr. Boniface H.J. Massawe (SUA) and co-supervised by Dr. Hilda G. Sanga (SUA), Dr. Max Herzog (UCPH), and Dr. Mawazo J. Shitindi (SUA)

Read Paulo's Publications

Paulo's research entitled "Exploring Flood Stress and Spatiotemporal Mapping of Flood Hotspots in Rice Growing Floodplains of Kilombero and Lower-Rufiji Sub-Basins, Tanzania" focused on enhancing the resilience of rice farming in flood-prone areas of Kilombero and Lower-Rufiji River basins by increasing knowledge and understanding of flood-related risks for implementing effective interventions that improve flood tolerance and reduce the vulnerability of rice farmers to flood events.  

The research successfully mapped flood hotspots with over 90% accuracy, providing crucial insights into flood-prone areas. Mapping flood hotspots using Sentinel satellite data and Google Earth Engine showed extensive floods, particularly in farms near rivers and wetlands. A survey of 180 households revealed widespread flood experiences causing crop losses and land abandonment. Farmers adjusted planting schedules and utilized late-maturing rice varieties to cope. The research highlighted the necessity for flood-tolerant rice varieties and early warning systems to enhance resilience in rice farming.

Kefrine Lutambi

Kefrine Lutambi is an MSc student in Crop Science, specializing in plant breeding, and a scholar of the Climate-smart African rice Project. Her research focus is on identifying salinity-tolerant rice genotypes. Throughout her academic journey, she is trained in planning experiments, conducting statistical analyses, and ensuring precise data collection. Kefrine is also trained in rice breeding, both nationally and internationally, including an exposure at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) headquarters. 

Currently, Kefrine is a Project Officer at SWISSAID Tanzania where she is working on a project aimed at increasing food security in communities prone to human-wildlife conflicts (HWC). She is passionate about contributing to food security goals in Tanzania and even Africa at large by leveraging the academic and practical experiences she gained through various initiatives, particularly the Climate-smart African rice program.

Supervisors: Prof. Susan Nchimbi-Msolla, Prof. Ole Pedersen, Dr. Newton Kilasi, Dr Amelia Henry, Dr. Marjorie De Ocampo

Kefrine's thesis on the "Characterization of Selected Rice Genotypes from Eastern and Southern Africa Tolerant to Salinity at Seedling Stage" aimed to identify salinity-tolerant rice genotypes that can be incorporated into the breeding process, thereby offering a viable solution to the issue of salinity in rice-growing areas of Eastern and Southern Africa. 

Herein, she conducted phenotypic characterization of selected rice genotypes from Eastern and Southern Africa at the seedling stage and performed genotypic characterization at the seedling stage and to identify Saltol QTL associated with salinity tolerance in rice. 

After assessing 206 genotypes for tolerance to salinity stress, variations emerged from phenotypic screening. Key variables like root and shoot dry weights, sodium concentration, and canopy temperature allowed for the categorization of the genotype’s variations to salinity tolerance. 

The genotypic study revealed some genotypes carrying the Saltol allele had salinity tolerance, while unexpectedly, others lacking Saltol were phenotypically tolerant to salinity. These interesting results offer potential pathways for developing rice varieties capable of tolerating salinity in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Nafeti Titus Mheni

Nafeti Titus Mheni is currently working at the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI). He is pursuing a PhD in Plant Breeding at the Sokoine University of Agriculture. His academic background includes a Bachelor's degree in Agronomy from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and a Master's degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the Ohio State University. His master's research focused on conducting genome-wide analysis for early maturity in wheat.

He is passionate about contributing to the ongoing efforts in developing resilient crops suitable for African climates.

Supervisors: Prof. Susan Nchimbi-Msolla, Prof. Ole Pedersen, Dr. Newton Kilasi, Dr Amelia Henry, Dr. Marjorie De Ocampo

Nafeti's PhD research is focusing on mapping the quantitative trait loci for salinity-tolerant traits in rice using Oryza glaberrima (African rice) and Oryza sativa (Asian rice). His research objective is to identify tolerant rice plants for the development of a mapping population, as well as genes governing tolerance to salinity in rice. The research involves screening rice germplasm from different sources and using related bioinformatics techniques to analyze and identify genes for tolerance. This requires familiarity with R software for conducting complex analyses. Nafeti and his team have screened more than 300 Oryza glaberrima accessions, materials sourced from AfricaRice, which were already genotyped for genome-wide association analysis (GWAS). They have identified several SNP markers associated with various traits related to salinity stress tolerance in rice.

Moh'd Mmanga Omar

Omar is a doctoral student at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Tanzania where he is actively engaged in research addressing the critical issue of salt-affected soils in major rice-growing areas. 

Omar is also working with the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) where his main research areas are agricultural land inventory, soil mapping, land suitability assessment, and climate change related to agricultural production.

Supervisors: Dr. Shitindi, M. J, Dr. Massawe, B. H. J, Dr. Fue, K. G., and Prof. Ole Pedersen

Read Omar's Publications

Omar's doctoral research on "Characterization, Mapping, and Management Options for Improving the Quality and Productivity of Salt-Affected Soils in Major Rice-Growing Areas of Tanzania" aims to address the challenges posed by salt-affected soils in major rice-growing areas of Tanzania. 

This research is directly linked to the objectives of the Climate-smart African rice program, which aims to alleviate the challenges associated with salt-affected soils in rice irrigation schemes. In the context of climate change and its impacts on agriculture, particularly rice cultivation, the study addresses a critical concern by focusing on salt-affected soils, which can be exacerbated by changing climatic conditions. By characterizing and mapping these soils, the research will contribute valuable insights into the program's goal. Moreover, the development of climate-smart management options for salt-affected soils will empower smallholder rice farmers in Tanzania with sustainable and resilient strategies. 

The results of this research will have the potential to make a significant contribution to the Climate-Smart African Rice program's mission of promoting climate-resilient agriculture for improved food security and livelihoods on the African continent. Meanwhile, the study managed to increase farmers' understanding of the issues of salt-affected soils.

Victoria Bulegeya

Victoria is PhD student at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) under the Climate-smart African rice program. She is a Research Officer at the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) holding a Master of Science in Plant Breeding from the Ohio State Univesity (OSU), USA and with over 10 years experience in agriculture research. 

Victoria is currently stationed at TARI Dakawa as a full-time researcher in rice breeding. Her research has focused on breeding rice varieties with improved tolerance for biotic and abiotic stresses, improved agronomic traits, and grain quality. Victoria's PhD research under the  Climate-smart African rice project will broaden her horizons and increase her research capacity to carry out research in developing varieties with tolerance to different abiotic stresses in Tanzania.

Supervisors: Prof. Susan Nchimbi Msolla (SUA), Dr. Newton Luwiyiso Kilasi, Dr. Waseem Hussein (IRRI) and Dr. Max Hezrog (UCPH)

Read Victoria's Publications

Victoria’s thesis is titled “Genomic assisted breeding for improvement of flooding tolerance in Tanzanian rice cultivars”. Her research goal is to improve productivity in flood-prone rice-producing regions of Tanzania by developing rice varieties with tolerance to complete submergence and stagnant flooding. 

Her research focuses on the identification of rice accessions with tolerance to flash flooding and stagnant flooding from the Oryza sativa population from Tanzania and the Oryza glaberrima population from West Africa. The study intends to carry out a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify QTL for submergence tolerance and stagnant flooding and identify candidate genes expressed in tolerant cultivars during submergence stress.  Victoria's research will serve as a benchmark for the development of rice varieties equipped with resilience to flooding stress. These varieties will be specifically tailored for utilization by rice farmers in flood-prone regions of Tanzania, ultimately enhancing rice productivity in these areas. The study will be documentation of new genomic sources of tolerance from African rice landraces and the established mapping population will be a platform for more studies on breeding for flooding tolerance in African rice.