I am on a mission to improve cowpea breeding in Africa

The Republic of Benin in West Africa is his home country and Frejus SODEDJI, is a young male scientist and proud beneficiary of the RSIF Cohort one scholarships that were awarded in 2018 to 15 students from across Africa.  He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree in Genetics and plant breeding under the PASET-RSIF funded Scholarship hosted by the Africa Center of Excellence in Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Agriculture of the University Félix Houphouët-Boigny, in Ivory Coast.

RSIF Sholar Sodedji Frejus Ariel Kpedetin during a poster presenation at the PASET Forum in Kigali in 2019
What it meant to recieve a PhD Scholarship

Receiving the PhD scholarship was an absolute privileged which he says is helping him to achieve his career goals and to contribute effectively to the transformation of Africa. The scheme of the scholarship has given him the unique opportunity to work closely with renowned scientists on specific questions in the field of his expertise. Besides exposure, the scholarship has enabled Frejus to grow his network and visibility in ways unimaginable through his participation to several forums and debates around research and development in Africa, both at continental and international levels.

With this unique opportunity, he has set as a core mission to improve cowpea, a legume grain crop that plays a significant role in food and nutrition security in Africa. His research has established the genetic diversity of cowpea germplasm from different origins and the variation of micronutrient content in their sprouts as well as strategies to increase them, which adds value to the crop and will be instrumental in strengthening the food system in Africa. Some of the outputs from this work have been accepted for publication in high-impact factor Journal while others are under review.

The Sandwich programme

As the world is faced with the pandemic, COVID-19, Frejus has been fortunate enough to be in South Korea, thanks to the PASET-RSIF sandwich programme, where the regulations in terms of protective measures against the spread of the virus are being well implemented. However, he, like many other scholars has experienced lockdowns, quarantine periods, and some shifts in the working calendar, which restrained access to laboratory facilities, delayed communication and timely achievements of goals, and not to mention the perpetual anxiety of a new outbreak of infected cases in the institution which automatically collapse all activities and communications.

Frejus is thankful to all the stakeholders of the PASET-RSIF programme for their engagement in higher education in Africa and their pledge that there will be constant support from all stakeholders to this life-changing initiative.  He calls upon the various stakeholders to monitor the indicators of success over time while addressing the shortcomings so that the scholars build to contribute to ‘ a prosperous Africa that we all want and are committed to.

Contact Frejus SODEDJI via frejusariel@gmail.com