It is with great sadness that we inform you of the unwelcome and untimely demise of Dr Margaret Onyango. Borlaug LEAP Fellow Alumni, Margaret received her PhD in Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA in 2007. Her mentor was Professor Richard Manshardt of the University of Hawaii and the CGIAR mentor was Dr. Deborah Karamura of Bioversity International, Uganda.
Her PhD dissertation was entitled ‘Characterization of East African accessions of Musa AAB “apple” and Musa AA “Muraru” dessert bananas’.
After obtaining her PhD, Margaret returned to her native Kenya where she has since served as Principal Research Scientist at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Kisii. Here she helped communities to manage Banana Xanthonomas wilt (BXW) on farm in Ugunja, Siaya County, Malakisi, Bungoma County and Bumala, Busia County using farmer field schools (FFS) and community task forces. Her work under the project ‘Strengthening partnerships along value chains to manage Xanthomonas wilt (Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum) of bananas in East Africa’ was ranked “Best KARI Implemented Project 2012”. This addressed farmers’ constraints using an innovative, integrated and holistic approach that recognizes integration and teamwork across levels, disciplines and gender to enhance productivity, commercialization and competitiveness for banana smallholders.
At the regional level, her demise creates an enormous gap that will prove all but impossible to fill. At Barnesa, we have lost both a dear friend and a research partner, who has worked tirelessly to promote banana research and development at the smallholder level in Kenya, the region and the world at large. We will always value her various and prolific contributions to our work in Kenya and the region. Her demise has robbed Barnesa, and the research and development community of a very industrious scientist and leader.
Barnesa extends condolences to her family, friends and colleagues across the globe.
To learn more about Margaret’s work, you can view her publications on banana.