Prof Mohammad Faguji Ishiyaku: One of Africa’s most Influential plant Breeders

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The Executive Director, Institute for Agricultural Research, Samaru, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria Professor Mohammad Faguji Ishiyaku is a household name in the area of plant breeding in Africa.

Listed amongst Africa’s 20 most influential plant breeders of the decade, he is one of the Champions of Nigeria’s Agricultural Biotechnology Revolution.

Who is Professor Mohammad Faguji Ishiyaku?
Who is Professor Mohammad Faguji Ishiyaku?
Professor Mohammad Faguji Ishiyaku

Professor Mohammad Faguji Ishiyaku is a sophisticated Professor of Plant Breeding at the Department of Plant Science, the Institute for Agricultural Research Samaru, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. He is currently the Executive Director of the Institute for Agricultural Research Samaru.

Professor Ishiyaku is the Principal investigator of the pod borer resistance (PBR) cowpea project in Nigeria that successfully led to the release and commercialization of the first genetically modified cowpea in the world.

The PBR cowpea was developed following a decade of intensive research and field trials in response to the devastating threat of Maruca Vitrata,  a pod-boring insect that can lead to up to 80% yield losses in cowpea, an important source of protein for millions of people in Nigeria and West Africa.


Professor Ishiyaku started his career as a Forest Research Officer at the Bauchi State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Bauchi from 1984 to 1989. Then he joined the services of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria where he worked as a Research Associate Cowpea Breeder for close to 8 years from 1989 to 1996.

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In 1997, he left IITA and joined the services of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he is still serving at present. He has served at University in several capacities including Dean Student Affairs, Student Affairs Division, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria 2010.

Professor Ishiyaku’s professional focus is on molecular plant breeding. He is a fellow of the Genetic Society of Nigeria and a member of several professional bodies. He has developed and released 12 Cowpea cultivars in Nigeria, with over 150 published articles to his credit.

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Professor Ishiyaku who is fluent in Fulfulde, Hausa, Kanuri, and English languages, holds a BSc. degree in botany/plant biology from the Ahmadu Bello University, a Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Cytogenetics & Plant Breeding from the University of Jos, and finally a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree from the University of Reading where he studied Plant Genetics.

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