Kelvin Kamfwa is a lecturer at the University of Zambia on study leave to pursue his PhD in Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology at Michigan State University (MSU). His research is looking at genome-wide association analysis for biological nitrogen fixation in common beans. His work is aimed at identifying superior germplasm, QTL, and genes for nitrogen fixation in common beans. Through his Borlaug LEAP fellowship, Kamfwa had the opportunity to conduct a field trial at International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)-Columbia under the supervision of Dr. Bodo Raatz, a breeder at CIAT. Dr. Raatz will oversee the phenotypic analysis. His US mentor, Dr. James Kelly, Professor at MSU, oversaw his research and data collection in Zambia. The team worked closely with Mr. Kennedy Muimui, Bean Program Leader at the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI), who supervised the in-country field trials.
Mr. Kamfwa believes breeders should use all the tools at their disposal including biotechnology. To increase the acceptability of genetically modified crops in Africa, there is need to work on traits that are more relevant to the farming systems in Africa including drought tolerance. He feels this technology could potentially play a critical role in addressing the food deficits in Africa. Once Mr. Kamfwa completes his PhD, he will return to the University of Zambia and continue the breeding program he started before he left. He expects that the skills he has acquired and the networks he has created during his PhD studies and fellowship will enable him to take leadership in the expansion and growth of graduate training and research in plant breeding and seed systems at the University of Zambia. Mr. Kamfwa's plan is to complete his research and dissertation and defend his thesis by the end of 2015.