Sunday Ekesi

Dr Sunday Ekesi

Dr. Sunday Ekesi is the Director of Research and Partnerships at icipe. He has been with icipe for 14 years and has held various science governance and leadership positions at icipe including Head, Plant Health Theme; Leader, African Fruit Fly Programme (AFFP); and Leader, Insect for Food, Feed and other uses Programme (INSEFF). He previously worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Rothamsted Research, UK and as a Lecturer in Crop Protection with Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria. Dr. Ekesi holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Crop Protection from Ahmadu Bello University through icipe’s African Regional Postgraduate Programme in Insect Science (ARPPIS) and a Master of Science (MSc) in Applied Entomology and Parasitology from the University of Jos in Nigeria.

He is an entomologist and integrated pest management (IPM) specialist with extensive knowledge and experience in sustainable agriculture (microbial control, biological control, habitat management/conservation, IPM, pesticide management), biodiversity and climate change in Africa and internationally. His specialist skills include: research planning and execution; project management (coordination/steering); strategic planning for new research areas; product development (moving scientific knowledge into commercialization e.g. bait/biopesticide development); resource mobilization (grants and grantmanship); budgeting and budget monitoring; research staff and student management and supervision; development and monitoring of agreements with partners; reporting; interacting with donors; stakeholder liaison; and knowledge transfer (capacity building, training, private sector partnerships).

Dr Ekesi’s dedication and innovation in the agricultural research for development has been successful at multiple levels transforming and facilitating growth in the horticulture industry, biopesticide development as component of IPM, use of insects as alternative sources of protein for food and feed, tackling invasive and migrant pests, enhancing resources, improving food and nutrition security and empowering and networking people to improve their wellbeing. Dr Ekesi has been leading a continent-wide initiative to develop and implement a cost effective and sustainable technology for control of fruit flies on the continent that is compliant with standards required for domestic and export markets. The programme has significantly improved the production of fruits and vegetables affected by fruit flies and increase net income of 200,000 smallholder families (1.2 million households) in sub-Saharan Africa. He has developed several biopesticides for use in IPM jointly with the private sector. In 2019 alone, the biopesticide products were applied on 132,994 ha of farmland by >53,198 benefitting 212,792 households. Dr Ekesi initiated the insects for food and feed programme at icipe in 2012. Since inception the programme has generated ground-breaking knowledge and technologies on edible insect mass production techniques, nutritional profiles, and established risk factors and safety parameters. Evidence-based data from various R4D activities continues to successfully influence policy decisions leading to development of Standards that have facilitated several small, medium and large-scale feed producers to integrate insects into feed production and create market and employment opportunities for women and youths to mass rear insects as a business.

He is a member of the icipe Senior Management Committee (SMC) contributing to science leadership and guiding the strategic direction and effective management of its R4D activities. Dr Ekesi serves in various advisory boards addressing food and nutrition security issues in Africa and globally including the 1890 Universities Center of Excellence for Global Food Security and Defense, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, USA; the FAO Global Action on Fall armyworm control; the Australia Grain Research and Development Corporation Fall Armyworm Preparedness and Control International Liaison Group; CGIAR Fall Armyworm R4D Consortium; USAID Virginia Tech IPM Innovation Lab; SIDA BioInnovate Africa Program; Membership Advisory Committee of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS); EU-CORAD/WECARD Regional Program for Fruit Fly Monitoring and Control in West Africa; International Fruit Fly Steering Committee, amongst others. Dr Ekesi provide advisory services to African government, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, the World Bank (WB), and several programmes on agriculture and health, climate change and innovation ecosystems in Africa. He has successfully secured over 48 grant proposals as Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-PI. He has > 250 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals (view Google Scholar Citation), >150 oral presentations in major scientific gatherings and been a member of editorial board of various journals. In 2020, he received icipe@50 Achievement Award for his R4D activities on fruit flies and insects as food and feed. In 2016, he was awarded Outstanding Principal Staff of the Year by icipe. In 2015, the icipe Plant Health Theme that he was leading was named ‘Team of the Year’. In 2020, he won the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Grand Challenges Annual Meeting Call-to-Action Award. He is a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America (FESA), Royal Entomological Society (FRES), UK and African Academy of Sciences (FAAS).

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