Senior Research Associate

at International Potato Center (CIP)
Location Kampala, Uganda
Date Posted October 9, 2019
Category Management
Job Type Full-time
Currency UGX


This is an NRS position based in Kampala, Uganda, requiring frequent field visits.  The position requires working in close collaboration with public and private sector research, seed producers, development agents and other on-going CIP sweetpotato initiatives to build technical, institutional capacities to operate seed systems at scale. The position is part of the SweetGAINS project, implemented by the International Potato Center. The position reports to the SweetGAINS, Seed Component Leader, and to the CIP Uganda Country Manager.

Key responsibilities.

 The Senior Research Associate will be responsible for strengthening commercial seed producers and marketing networks in selected geographies or sweetpotato value chains; and implementing timely research for varietal evaluation.

With guidance from the Regional SweetGAINS team:
  • Lead in-country consultations to plan and design SweetGAINS seed supply chain interventions in specific in-country geographies and sweetpotato value chains;
  • Tap into lessons from existing activities, identify and design interventions to address key constraints to sweetpotato seed systems linkages between Early Generations Seed (EGS) producers and downstream commercial seed produces and root producers;
Strengthen selected commercial seed producers through:
  • Implementation of equity sensitive co-investment packages, and training for business orientated quality seed production using a household enterprise approach;
  • Development of strategies with seed producers for stronger marketing networks, with seed sellers and traders in the informal sector;
  • Assessment of potential of agro-dealers to play a role in the sweetpotato seed inputs and distribution chain;
  • Leveraging opportunities to link quality seed producers with root production, marketing and processing interventions supported by other CIP projects.

In collaboration with NaCRRI and commercial seed producers:

  • Strengthen EGS production of market preferred varieties, through improved identification and planning for EGS requirements;
  • Ensure multiplication of sufficient quantities of quality seed is available before varietal release.

In collaboration with NaCRRI and breeding component of SweetGAINS:

  • Provide technical supervision for establishment of variety trials, demonstration plots and field days hosted by seed producers;
  • Strengthen participation of seed producers and farmers in the evaluation of advanced materials and new varieties;
  • In consultation with MEL colleagues implement novel methods (e.g. Tricot and crowd sourcing) for real time sex disaggregated farmer feedback on varietal traits and preferences, to inform marketing and promotion strategies for different market segments.
Oversee mentoring and development of local associations of sweetpotato seed value chain actors, building on lessons from other similar initiatives, including:
  • Capacity development for trainers of trainers (ToT) in quality seed production;
  • Managing customer data base;
  • Development of marketing and branding plans (labelling, packing, quality mark);
  • Promotion of internal quality assurance practices and linkages to external regulatory bodies;
  • Identifying self-financing mechanisms for sustainability.

General responsibilities

  • Identify any emerging bottlenecks to successful implementation of activities and work with national research partner institutions and private sector to address those constraints;
  • Attend in-country meetings with partners on a regular basis;
  • Participate as a co-researcher in conducting, documenting and present findings from field research in conferences and journals;
  • Contribute to the development of new project ideas and proposals;
  • Support and collaborate with other CIP sweetpotato initiatives in Uganda;
  • Actively participate in the Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative (SPHI) community of practice for sweetpotato breeding and seed systems for exchange of experience and technical debate;
  • Prepare brief bi-weekly updates for CIP and project quarterly reports on a timely basis;
  • Any other duties within the context of sweetpotato seed systems research for development in Uganda.



  • Master's degree in Agronomy, Biology, Microbiology, Genetics, Economics or related area;
  • At least 8 years’ experience with sweetpotato seed production or other vegetatively propagated crops, working within a value chain perspective;
  • Experience in experimental design, implementation and quantitative data analysis;
  • Experience in farmer participatory, action research, and value chain methods;
  • Willingness to spend extended periods in the field;
  • A good understanding of the current market and main players involved in the distribution and commercialization of sweetpotato seed in Uganda;
  • Excellent aptitude and ability to maintain close and collegiate relationships with NARI and key seed system stakeholders to achieve timely, results orientated common goals;
  • Excellent communication skills, (oral, written) and publication record;
  • Ability to manage a multi-cultural and diverse work environment;
  • Experience in working in multi-disciplinary teams and demonstrated ability to achieve gender intentional outcomes.


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