In its December 2019 issue, the journal Plant Breeding Reviews has recognized International Potato Center (CIP) scientist and 2016 World Food Prize co-recipient, Maria Isabel Andrade, for her contributions to the field for her important work on sweetpotato.
The article describes Andrade’s professional journey starting in the island nation of Cape Verde, where she attended primary and secondary school. A scholarship from the African American Institute opened the door for Andrade to study agronomy in the United States, and, in 1989, she enrolled at North Carolina State University where she earned a degree in plant breeding and plant physiology, specializing in the yield stability of sweetpotato.
From these beginnings, Andrade developed her research interests in technology transfer, breeding, seed systems, and the improvement of value chains, marking the start of a 32-year career in agriculture. Calling Mozambique her research home, Andrade started with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in 1996 as regional cassava and sweetpotato agronomist for the Southern Africa Root Crop Research Network. Then in 2009, she joined CIP to manage the Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa project, bringing together breeders from Malawi, Zambia, Angola, South Africa, Madagascar, and Mozambique, with a focus on breeding drought-tolerant sweetpotato varieties.