Borlaug LEAP Alumnus Dr. Kiddo Mtunda is a Principal Agricultural Research Officer at the Sugarcane Research Institute in Kibaha, located in her home country of Tanzania. In 2010 she was selected as a Borlaug LEAP Fellow while attending the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, in partnership with Cornell University. Dr. Mtunda’s research investigated starch content and quality of cassava varieties developed and grown in humid and sub-humid lowlands of Tanzania. The Rockefeller Foundation and Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) also helped fund her research in Tanzania and Cornell University provided laboratory facilities for analytical analysis cassava starch samples. Dr. Mtunda’s US mentor was Dr. Tim Setter, who has over 10 years of experience collaborating with researchers in Africa and he helped support the modeling elements of her research.
Dr. Mtunda’s research focused on the breeding, evaluation, and selection of cassava for high starch content and yield in Tanzania. During her research in Tanzania, she developed new cassava clones using ten parental lines, of which five were from Tanzania and five from CIAT in Columbia.
While at Cornell University, Dr. Mtunda assessed cassava root starch qualities in F1 population derived by crossing Tanzanian local germplasm with elite cassava introductions. She believes that understanding the starch qualities of Tanzanian bred cassava varieties will help starch processors in Tanzania to identify the varieties they need for starch industry. Dr. Mtunda received her PhD in Plant Breeding in 2010.