Senior Officer Plant Breeding and Genetics

Food and Agriculture Organization

Vienna, Austria

The mandate of the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture (CJN) is to assist Members of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in using nuclear techniques and related technologies to improve food security, alleviate poverty and promote sustainable agriculture. The Joint FAO/IAEA Centre (CJN) consists of five Sections, each with an associated laboratory (located in Seibersdorf, Austria) in the areas of: animal production and health; plant breeding and genetics; insect pest control; soil and water management and crop nutrition; and food safety and control. The major activities of the joint FAO/IAEA Centre focus on:
  • support and coordination of research and development (R-D) activities;
  • capacity building and technology for FAO/IAEA Members;
  • laboratory and technical support and assistance;
  • policy advice and knowledge dissemination.
Reporting Lines:
The Senior Technical Officer (Plant Breeding and Genetics) reports to the Director of the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre (CJN).

Technical Focus:
  • Development and improvement of induced mutagenesis and advanced biotechnologies for plant breeding and crop improvement, application of nuclear and related techniques to increase efficiency of induced genetic variation and plant breeding, facilitation of the use of plant breeding for accelerated genetic gain in crop productivity, plant health and climate-change adaptation.
Key Functions:
  • Leads the development, implementation and evaluation of technical issues of assigned programmes/projects; directs the review of relevant documents and reports; identifies priorities, liaises with relevant parties; identifies and initiates follow-up actions;
  • Coordinates programmes and reviews the assessment of issues and trends for the implementation of programmes and projects as well as the preparation of impact evaluation or equivalent studies;
  • Supervises preparation of various written outputs, e.g. background papers, analyses, substantial sections of reports as well as studies, and inputs to publications;
  • Directs substantive support to consultative meetings and conferences, to include the proposition of agenda topics, identifying participants, preparation of documents and presentations;
  • Manages outreach activities; designs and conducts training workshops and seminars; makes presentations on assigned topics/activities;
  • Leads field missions, including provision of guidance to external consultants, government officials and other parties;
  • Provides advice to develop policies and strategies as well as national protocols and guide lines for projects with specific domains related to FAO's work.
Specific Functions:
  • Implements and monitors activities of the programme including the development/improvement of induced genetic variation for crop improvement, breeding techniques and related biotechnologies for accelerated genetic gain and supporting system(s)/database(s);
  • Designs and oversees research and analysis activities pertinent to plant breeding and genetics to support the development of technical standards, international instruments, innovation, technical reports, publications and/or ongoing programme development as well as the provision of technical and/or policy advisory services;
  • Provides technical support and/or policy advice to FAO and IAEA Members through Technical Cooperation projects in promoting application of induced genetic variation and plant breeding for crop improvement in the context of climate change and global food security, especially in developing countries;
  • Leads technical and managerial coordination of the Plant Breeding and Genetics Section and oversees programmatic implementation of the Plant Breeding and Genetics Laboratory;
  • Provides strategic direction and intellectual leadership for the development and application of research innovation frameworks and standards for plant breeding and crop improvement anchored on the concepts of induced genetic variation and accelerated genetic gain;
  • Leads visionary thinking and priority setting for the development, adaptation and/or improvement of plant breeding and associated biotechnologies based on existing capacities and emerging issues faced by FAO and IAEA Members in the production of food, feed or cash crops propagated either by seed or vegetative means;
  • Facilitates the testing and establishment of workable seed system modalities in FAO/IAEA Members, where necessary, for enhanced access of farmers to improved varieties of seeds ;
  • Provides technical leadership for the Plant Mutation Breeding Network and facilitates technology exchange to continuously enhance breeding-pipeline efficiencies in FAO and IAEA Members;
  • Manages, supports and coordinates research and development activities through Coordinated Research Projects to develop innovative solutions to emerging issues in crop production, and technical obstacles to plant breeding and accelerated genetic gain;
  • Leads and provides technical backstopping to and ensures the quality/effectiveness of capacity development and knowledge-sharing activities for Members in the application of plant breeding;
  • Ensures timely publication of updates to the Manual on Mutation Breeding, as well as the preparation of up-to-date training manuals on relevant crop-trait and technology development/ improvement topics;
  • Monitors policy, legal and technical developments at national and international levels relevant to technologies applied for plant breeding and crop improvement;
  • Participates and contributes to the emergency response and preparation for nuclear and radiological emergencies affecting food and agriculture.
Candidates Will Be Assessed Against The Following:

Minimum Requirements:
  • Advanced university degree  in biological or agricultural sciences with specialization in plant breeding, crop improvement, crop science or related field.
  • Ten years of relevant experience in the area of plant breeding and professional experience in research on crop improvement and/or other biological sciences.
  • Working knowledge (proficient - level C) of English and limited knowledge (intermediate - level B) of another official FAO language (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish).