ILRI MSc Graduate Fellowship: Sustainable Animal Productivity for Livelihoods, Nutrition, and Gender Inclusion (SAPLING) Initiative, Forage

  • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Full-time
  • CapDev

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks to recruit an MSc graduate fellow to work on Sustainable Animal Productivity for Livelihoods, Nutrition, and Gender Inclusion (SAPLING) Initiative, Forage, hosted at the Feed and Forage Development (FFD) program at ILRI.

ILRI works to improve food and nutritional security and reduce poverty in developing countries through research for efficient, safe and sustainable use of livestock. It is the only one of 15 CGIAR research centers dedicated entirely to animal agriculture research for the developing world. Co-hosted by Kenya and Ethiopia, it has regional or country offices in East, South and Southern Asia as well as Central, East, Southern and West Africa.

The FFD research program aims to provide options to: increase the quantity and quality of feed resources to improve livestock productivity in order to meet the growing demand for animal-source food; enhance profitability by reducing feed costs; increase income, employment and livelihoods from feed/fodder value chains and reduce labour/drudgery (especially for women); and reduce the environmental impact of feed.

About the position

The central element of our research is to develop a public resource of genomic tools to support the next generation of genomics-based breeding strategies for indigenous forages that are familiar with small holders, require low inputs and are adaptable to different agro-ecologies. This demands systemic utilization of genetic diversity by developing and utilizing knowledge-based tools for innovative breeding strategies. A practical motivation for this research is to accelerate the breeding of highly productive, winter-hardy and protein-rich oat cultivars that can sustain ecofriendly livestock systems in the highlands of eastern regions of Africa, with a particular focus on Ethiopia and Eritrea. The role aims to identify quantitative trait loci (QTLs) and candidate genes significantly associated with winter hardiness and photoperiod adaptation in oats. The genomic tools developed in this project will ultimately enable breeders at National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) to apply advanced plant breeding procedures, such as genomic selection and marker-assisted breeding in their projects. The role will leverage a collaboration between the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute (EIAR) Teagasc, ILRI and Earlham Institute (EI) which has all the potential to advance breeding techniques for food/feeds in general, that in turn holds a promise to improve livelihoods of people living in marginal areas characterized by reduced or irregular rainfall that can no longer support standard crop production.

The fellowship project is funded by the forage component of the SAPLING initiative. The student will be working on project activities leveraging the genetic resources held in the ILRI Forage Genebank, involving both laboratory and field trial work (molecular techniques applied, agronomic evaluation and feed quality analysis etc.). Furthermore, the student will be working on ILRI’s high performance computer (HPC), summarizing genotyping datasets. The student will gain valuable knowledge and skills in conventional plant breeding approaches, advanced molecular techniques, and basic bioinformatics applications, in line with societal needs and ILRI’s effort to train future plant breeders.

Responsibilities of the fellow/student:

  • Conduct literature review.
  • Prepare research proposal and defend at the university.
  • Support the design and execution of oats field trials in Shola and other ILRI field sites.
  • Collect agro-morphological and related data from oats field trials (Addis Ababa, Holeta and Ada-Berga).
  • Sample collection, DNA extraction and preparation for submission to genotyping service.
  • Analyze phenotyping, nutrition, and genotypic datasets.
  • Report and thesis writing.


This fellowship is open to Ethiopian nationals only.

Minimum requirements for the ideal candidate:

  • MSc student registered in a recognized university pursuing a course in genetics, plant breeding and related field.
  • Have completed MSc course work and ready to start thesis project.
  • Possess Bachelor’s degree in plant science, biological sciences, or a related field.
  • Demonstrated experience working in molecular genetics, quantitative genetics, or bioinformatics.
  • Experience with R statistical software for DNA analysis is an advantage.
  • Work experience in DNA extraction and analysis.
  • Good working knowledge of MS Office packages.
  • Experience contributing to writing reports and journal publications.
  • Ability to work independently, multi-task and meet tight deadlines.
  • Proficiency with written and spoken English.

Location: ILRI, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Duration: 1-year (November 2022 – October 2023)

Terms of appointment: ILRI will offer a competitive stipend to cover living expenses in the project location, medical insurance cover, and meet research expenses. The successful candidate will be supervised jointly by ILRI scientist (s) and the university/academic supervisor(s).

How to apply:

All applications MUST include the following (applications without the below documents will not be considered):

  • a cover letter expressing their interest in the fellowship position and what they bring to the fellowship.
  • CV including names and addresses (including telephone and email) of three referees who are knowledgeable about the candidate’s professional qualifications and work experience.
  • academic certificates/transcripts.

Applications will be sent to the Head of Capacity Development, ILRI by clicking on the tab "APPLY NOW" on or before 15 November 2022. The position title and reference number REF: GF/ILRI/FFD /01/2022 should be clearly marked on the subject line of the cover letter.

We thank all applicants for their interest in working for ILRI. Due to the volume of applications, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

ILRI does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing or training). ILRI also does not concern itself with information on applicants' bank accounts.

To find out more about ILRI visit our websites at