Alpha Diallo, a former CIMMYT maize breeder, was honored at a maize fair held in Embu on 4 September 2009. Diallo worked with CIMMYT for a total of 25 years, 11 of which were spent at CIMMYT-Kenya, before his retirement at the end of 2008. Organized by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), and held at the KARI-Embu Research Center, the event included a tour of the CIMMYT/KARI maize breeding trials and nurseries, followed by a tree-planting session. During the field tour, guests visited the maize streak virus (MSV) screen house, as well as the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) and Insect Resistant Maize for Africa (IRMA) project maize trials.
KARI’s director, Dr. Ephraim Mukisira, officiated at the maize fair. Other KARI staff present included the deputy director, center directors, and scientists from various KARI stations across the country. Also in attendance were provincial agricultural officers from Eastern and Central provinces, KARI-Embu staff, and farmers from the Embu region. At the function, Diallo was recognized for his contribution to maize improvement and capacity building in Kenya, and for his mentorship of KARI maize breeders. Diallo had developed several maize varieties suitable for the wet and dry mid-altitudes of Kenya, which have been released by KARIand are currently marketed by seed companies. In addition, he helped to establish managed-stress-screening sites and improve infrastructure at KARI stations.
As part of his recognition, Diallo was bestowed the name ‘Murimi,’ which means ‘a highly accomplished farmer.’ During the naming ceremony, he was presented with a special headdress, typically reserved for elders and important personalities in the community. Along with this he also received an armload of gifts, including a copy of the Koran, an African elder’s stool, a flywhisk, a plaque, and a KARI commemorative clock. Among the Mount Kenya communities where this event was held, the flywhisk is a symbol of importance and given to those of high standing in the society.
At hand to congratulate their former colleague were CIMMYT scientists, Dan Makumbi, Yoseph Beyene, and Tadele Tefera as well as CIMMYT research technician Joseph Kasango, who worked closely with Diallo for about nine years. Diallo, a national of Guinea, thanked KARI for the excellent collaboration he had with them during his time at CIMMYT-Kenya, saying it significantly contributed to his professional success.