Plant Breeder - Tropical Forages

Palmira | Bogotá

Plant Breeder - Tropical Forages

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture ( works to reduce hunger and poverty, and improve human nutrition in the tropics through research aimed at increasing the eco-efficiency of agriculture. CIAT is a member of the CGIAR Consortium (, a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future. The Center’s research focuses on increasing productivity of key crops (cassava, common bean, rice, and tropical forages), reversing soil and land degradation, and using information to foster better decisions about issues such as climate change and environmental management. Headquartered near Cali, Colombia, CIAT has regional offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Hanoi, Vietnam, with staff posted in other developing countries as well.

CIAT’s Tropical Forage Program (TFP) has worked for four decades developing tropical forages through collection, selection and breeding. Forage-based systems are the main agricultural land use in the tropics and novel forage options have contributed to improved livelihoods of may smallholder farmers. The TFP aims for more efficient and sustainable agriculture and livestock production while reducing the ecological footprint in the framework of CIAT’s concept of “Eco-Efficient Agriculture for the Poor”.

Brachiaria grasses are the most widely sown forages in the tropics. CIAT’s TFP has two active forage breeding programs focusing on the genus Brachiaria. Work is carried out in collaboration with the private sector to enhance efficiency of Brachiaria cultivar development and dissemination. Criteria for developing successful Brachiaria forage grass options include high productivity, nutritive quality, adaptation to biotic and abiotic stresses and seed production and, more recently parameters to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through plant-based characteristics.

The Position

CIAT is looking for a visionary and innovative breeder with interest in tropical forages recognizing their importance in agricultural systems for livelihoods and environmental benefits. The breeder would be located at CIAT HQ in Cali, Colombia but results will have application across the Tropics with particular emphasis in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), South East Asia (SEA) and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).


  • Continue and enhance output in on-going forage breeding programs, with particular attention to the genus Brachiaria in collaboration with private sector and national and international partners from the public sector
  • Support the breeding team at all levels by enhancing its capacity and output
  • Link with public and private sector research collaborators at the national, regional and global level
  • Provide regular communication and reports to donors and with technical and administrative supervisors and colleagues at CIAT.
  • Establish productive working relationships with CIAT colleagues, e.g., in plant pathology, entomology, plant nutrition, and animal nutrition to develop and perfect efficient screening methodologies for key plant traits.
  • Represent CIAT, and specifically the TFP at meetings of all levels, providing updated information or presentations on project workTo supervise and motivate support personal to ensure opportune completion of tasks.
  • Represent CIAT, and specifically the TFP at meetings of all levels, providing updated information or presentations on project activities.


  • PhD in plant breeding. Experience with forage breeding would be an advantage but is not considered essential
  • Strong background in conventional plant breeding and applications of molecular tools where relevant to enhancing the efficiency of forage improvement research
  • Awareness of commercial requirements for forage seed production, as a key goal is developing marketable products to achieve large scale impacts
  • Thorough knowledge of experimental design and multivariate statistical analysis
  • A demonstrated ability to elaborate high quality publications meeting international standards.
  • Capacity to assess environmental impacts of agricultural production
  • Good knowledge of statistical analysis

Desired Qualifications and Role Competencies

  • Spanish language skill
  • Familiarity with forages and smallholder farming systems in the Tropics
  • Ability to work effectively in a multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural team across institutions and levels of authority. Willingness to learn new research approaches integrating traditional and novel tools
  • Strong communication skills, both written and oral, in English, and ability to work in a team

Terms of employment

The position is internationally recruited and will be based at Palmira, Colombia and reporting directly to the leader of the Tropical Forages Program and to the Research Area Director Agrobiodiversity. The initial contract will be for up to two (2) years, subject to a probation period of six (6) months, and is renewable depending on performance and availability of resources.

CIAT offers a multicultural, collegial research environment with competitive salary and excellent benefits. CIAT is an equal opportunity employer, and strives for staff diversity in gender and nationality. Woman candidates from Latin America, Africa and Asia are particularly encouraged to apply.


Applicants are invited to send a cover letter illustrating their suitability for the above position against the listed qualifications, competencies, skills together with a detailed curriculum vitae, including names and addresses of three referees knowledgeable about the candidate’s professional qualifications and work experience. All correspondence should be addressed to the CIAT Human Resources Office to Andrea Linares ( and should clearly indicate “Plant Breeder - Tropical Forages”.

Closing date for applications: June 6th, 2016

Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.
  • Organization: CIAT - International Center for Tropical Agriculture
  • Location: Palmira | Bogotá
  • Grade: Mid/Senior
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Agriculture and Forestry
  • Closing Date: 2016-06-06

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