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CIMMYT and IITA build capacity in variety release approaches in West and eastern Africa

Between July 21 and 26, 2008, CIMMYT in collaboration with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the national agricultural research systems (NARS) in Benin and Mali conducted a training workshop on variety testing and release approaches for 29 participants from Mali and Benin. The workshop was held at IITA’s station in Cotonou, Benin and the participants included maize breeders, technical staff and seed services staff involved in management of field trials, variety testing, registration and release. The course was unique in that it was conducted almost entirely in French and was coordinated by Baffour Badu-Apraku, of IITA, Nigeria, who was assisted by his colleague Diakalia Sanogo. CIMMYT’s Alpha Diallo and Peter Setimela were also resource persons. Additionally, several scientists from collaborating NARS from both Mali and Benin shared their expertise. The scientists were A. Djima, G. Gbehounou, L. Akanvou, S. Korie, Y. Chabi, D. Alexandre, B. Bossey and Togunde.

Similar training was held from July 28 to August 1, 2008 in Kampala, Uganda for 21 participants who included representatives from private seed companies and NARS from Uganda, Tanzania, and Southern Sudan. The course coordinator was CIMMYT’s Dan Makumbi, assisted by colleagues Peter Setimela and Cosmos Magorokosho. Godfrey Asea of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in Uganda and Justus Imanywoha of FICA Seeds Ltd were guest resource persons. Dr. James Ogwang, Director of the National Crops Resources Research Institute Namulonge, Uganda, opened the training workshop.

Each of the one-week training workshops were very interactive with learning taking place through lectures, discussions, demonstrations, computer exercises, field visits, and practical sessions where the participants had an opportunity try out their new skills on the ground. Technical in nature, the courses covered aspects of constraints to maize production in sub-Saharan Africa; maize breeding objectives and procedures; breeding for abiotic stress; management of field trials and nurseries; maize seed production and management; on-farm variety testing; distinct stability and uniformity (DUS) and value for cultivation and use (VCU) in variety testing. Participants also learned the basics on how to use Fieldbook – software developed by CIMMYT.

The two training workshops were supported by the DTMA Project and demonstrated excellent collaboration with national agricultural research system partners.