Biodata of Professor Gezahegn Berecha
Professor Gezahegn Berecha Yadessa, is a professor of Applied Ecology at the Department of Horticulture and Plant Sciences, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Jimma University
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Phone: +251 917 80 2251
Prof. Gezahegn Berecha was born on 15th of November 1976 in South West Shoa zone, Wonchi district at a specific village called “CHITU “of the Oromia Regional State, Ethiopia. He attended his elementary and junior secondary education in CHITU Elementary and Junior Secondary School and his high school education in Dejazimach Geresu Duki Comprehensive Secondary school.
Prof. Gezahegn Berecha Yadessa started his professional career as Diploma graduate in Plant Sciences with major emphasis to coffee, Tea and Spices from the then Jimma College of Agriculture now Jimma University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in 1996. He obtained his BSC in HORTICULTUTRE from Jimma University in December 2003 and Masters of Science Degree (MSc.) in Organic Agriculture specialization in Farm and Rural Environment from Wageningen University and Research (WUR), the Netherlands on 29 August, 2008. Finally, he got his PhD in Science (Biology) in October, 2014 from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium. His dissertation title was “Genetic Diversity, Pollination Ecology and Organoleptic Characteristics of Coffea arabica L. in Ethiopian Moist Forests of Different Management Intensity and his dissertation book is archived in KU Leuven Library.
Since his recruitment as Technical Assistant at Department of Horticulture and Plant sciences, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Jimma University in August 1996, Professor. Gezahegn Berecha has been serving at the same college at different capacity and academic ranks for the last 22 years.
In addition to offering several courses for undergraduate and postgraduate students of Jimma University and other sister universities in the country, he has the following contributions:
- He has successfully supervised 2 PhD dissertations and over 30 MSc theses. He is currently supervising 7 PhD and 8 MSc students from Jimma University, and KU-Leaven, Belgium as promoter and co-promoter.
- He developed different teaching and laboratory practical modules for undergraduate students
- Developed various curricula for both undergraduate and postgraduate programs at Jimma University: BSc in Horticulture, BSc in plant sciences, and Master program in Horticulture, Master program in Industry Oriented Horticulture and PhD in Horticulture and plant pathology.
- took part as ad hoc committee to “ Reform” the department of Horticulture and plant sciences to ensure effective teaching and learning activities
- Linking academics with Research: Organized international honor training courses that enable the postgraduate students to revisit their research endeavor in global perspectives over the last two years. The courses have been offered by renowned professors from Holland, Kenya, Ethiopia and Industry specialists from Holland and EU. As part of 2018 trainings, five staff and postgraduate students of Jimma University have visited some of high tech facilities and companies in Holland.
- Co-developer and core implementation committee member for the unique non-campus based training programme (On-location Industry Oriented MSc in Horticulture) developed in partnership with Ethiopian Horticulture Development Agency and Ethiopian Horticulture producers and exporters Association. The programme is currently running in three satellite sites (Addis Ababa, Ziway and Adama) and enrolled over 100 postgraduate students drawn from the six floriculture industry clusters of the country.
On top of his engagement in teaching, research and community services duties, Profffessor Gezahegn Berecha has served as founder and Director of International Institute of Coffee Research at Jimma University since June 2015 to date; he also served as Coordinator of Distance and Continuing Education at Jimma University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (December 2008 to April 2010); Dean of students: Jimma University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (November 2005 to August 2006); and Farm Manager: Jimma University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (November 2003 to November 2005). Apart from this, Prof Gezahegn has been serving in various standing committees of the University such as member of Jimma University Research Council.
Dr. Gezahegn Berecha has very strong track record in research and project coordination and management. In the past couple of years, he is able to make tremendous contributions in attracting projects and partners that have promoted JUCAVM and the International Institute of Coffee Research he is currently serving as director.
Dr. Gezahegn’s Research Interest areas include but not limited to, Coffee Ecology and Quality; Ecological interactions; Ecosystem Services, Landscape Genetics; Population genetics; Conservation Biology; Phyto-pathology; Biological control of pests; Climate change. During his stay in JUCAVM, he has initiated and implemented several national and international funded projects that have benefited Jimma University, JU students, and farming community in the JU mandate areas. To mention some:
- Initiated and coordinated the implementation of “Diversifying farms and forests: bee keeping for additional income and increased ecosystem services in Ethiopian coffee forests “THAT INCLUDED DISSEMINATION OF RESEARCH RESULTS IN GARUKE AREA NEAR JIMMA. From this project, 70 coffee Farmers benefited in Manna district of Jimma Zone;
- Granted and managed international research and development projects that provided research support for 29 plus post graduate students of JUCAVM (majority of them were females) and, supported over 29,000 direct beneficiary farmers and over 300,000 indirect beneficiaries in 13 woredas in four zones (Jimma, Buno-Bedele, Illubabor, and East Wollega) since 2011 till to date.
- Won research fund together with his partners that benefited over 3000 coffee farmers in two districts in Jimma Zone (Gummay and Sentema). He has organized improved coffee seedlings producing youth and disadvantaged groups in Jimma zone in 2017, and 2018.
- Won two JU-Mega Research fund as PI that being used in support of 2 PhD and four MSc students of JUCAVM;
- Granted Development Innovative fund (DIF) of World Bank to establish small scale fruits and vegetable training center at department of Horticulture, Jimma University ($US 20,000 )
- Research grants from Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization to conduct research on bio-control of alliance weed species ($ US 10,000).
- Prepared nine plus best fit practice manuals for scaling up/ out of agricultural innovation and good agricultural practices to more farmers
- Shared his research outputs to the community through Jimma University community radio and extension messaging materials ( leaflets, posters, etc);
- As a coffee scientist, he has been serving in Agriculture sector particularly in coffee industry as a trainer, and consultant to enhance coffee productivity and quality. He has been capacitating development agents and subject matter specialist (SMS) working in coffee sector along its value chain.
- Served as national coffee variety releasing committee member and approved the release of two coffee varieties to be used in the country;
- Contributed to the content of two policy briefs published for stakeholders and policy makers regarding climate adaptation success stories in Jimma area;
- Organized two regional policy dialogue events on (1) seed delivery system, and (2)Human-wildlife conflict over the last three years
Thus far Prof. Gezahegn has authored and co-authored a total of 42 peer reviewed publications in the areas of his specialization and research interest areas outlined above. Of these, 23 of them were produced since his last promotion to Associate Professor Rank. Besides, he has authored and co-authored 12 scientific papers presented on national and international conferences (published/ unpublished in proceedings).
Prof. Gezahegn has been conducting both applied and fundamental research activities to investigate how forest fragmentation and forest management for coffee cultivation has an impact on coffee forest biodiversity and ecosystem functioning with the ultimate objectives to devise forest management systems that conserve biodiversity including coffee genetic diversity, improve delivery of ecosystem services and support sustainable livelihood of rural communities. His ongoing research projects include:
- Effects of coffee forest management intensification on Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica L.) yield, yield quality and wild coffee genetic resources
- Incidence and Ecology of rust (Hemileia vastatrix) on Wild Coffea arabica in moist Ethiopian mountain forest
- Characterization and genetic diversity analysis of coffee (Coffea arabica L.) accessions, advanced selections and released varieties in Ethiopia
- Factors Affecting Quality and Biochemical Attributes of Arabica Coffee (Coffea arabica L.) in Kafa Biosphere Reserve, Southwest Ethiopia
- Genetic Diversity, Genotype x Environment Interaction and Stability of Wollega Coffee (Coffea arabica L.) Landraces in Western Ethiopia
- Current population diversity and development of effective bioherbicides for management of common weeds of Coffee (Coffea arabica L.) in Southwestern Ethiopia
Professor Gezahegn also has good track record in project coordination. To mention some he served as:
- Cluster Manager: BENEFIT (Bilateral Ethiopia Netherlands effort for Food, Income and Trade), CASCAPE (Capacity building for Scaling-up of evidence based best practices in Agricultural production in Ethiopia) project funded by the Netherlands Government running for 2016-2019;
- Project coordinator: AFERIA (Adaptation for Ecosystem Resilience in Africa) project running from January 2016-December, 2017 in three countries (Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia).
- Local Project coordinator: Diversifying farms and forests: bee-keeping for additional income and increased ecosystem services in Ethiopian coffee forests” project running from 01/08/2013 to 30/07/2017 funded by the King Baudouin Foundation.
- Deputy coordinator: CASCAPE (Capacity building for Scaling-up of evidence based best practices in Agricultural production in Ethiopia) project based at Jimma University, funded by the Netherlands Government running for 2011-2015. The project is implemented by six universities in Ethiopia and WUR;
- Project implementation team member, PHMVA, CIDA funded project, 2009-2015 (3, 000,000 $ Canadian dollars)
Professor Gezahegn has got different PROFESSIONAL HONORS AND AWARDS from different organizations and donors. To mention some, he was awarded
- Best grant holder and researcher of the year 2017 by Jimma University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine;
- Visiting Scholar Award for short stay at KU Leuven , Belgium
- VLIR-JU doctoral research grant for four years (2010- 2014)
- CIDA scholarship for short term training at NSCA, Canada (June to August, 2009)
- Netherlands Fellowship Program (NFP) Scholarship for MSc study at Wageningen University and Research Center (August 2006 to August 2008).
- Certificate of recognition (2009) as best teacher and researcher of the year (Jimma University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine) in 2009
Prof. Gezahegn has several professional and personal affiliations including active fellow of the Ethiopia Coffee Science Society (ECSS); Ethiopian Horticultural Science Society (E.H.S.S.); Environmental Health and Ecology Project IUC-JU cooperation; Wageningen University Alumni Jimma University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine Alumni. He has been serving as technical editor for Ethiopian Journal of Applied Science and Technology (EJAST), and reviewer for several national and international journals such as African Journal of Biotechnology; African Journal of Microbiology Research; Ethiopian Journal of Applied Science and Technology; International Journal of Agricultural Research and International Journal of pest management.
Some of the community services contributed by Dr. Gezahegn include but not limited to
- Board member for “ Sew Le sew youth, elders, and mentally ill rehabilitation Center located in Jimma City
- President elected for Ethiopian Coffee Science Society
- Vice president for Basket ball Federation of Jimma City Administration
- Honorary member for Football Federation of Jimma city Administration
- Volunteer Lifelong member for Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia
- Lifelong member of Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS)
- Lead community and school campaigns in soil and water conservation activities to protect land degradation in Gummay and Setema districts, Jimma zone
- Mobilized farmers in different woredas to enhance farm productivity and improved livelihood
- Heavily involved in Manbarnootaaf school support activities in selected school in woredas in Jimma zone
- Take part in mobilizing volunteers in supporting orphan children in Bosa Addis Ketema, Jimma city