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CIMMYT Fieldbook for sweet potato breeding?

At first, Fieldbook for sweet potato breeding seems highly unlikely. However, following a recent Fieldbook training session in Nairobi, Kenya, the sweet potato breeders at the CGIAR’s International Potato Center (CIP) are exploring the use of the application for just that. Jan Low, CIP’s leader of the Sweet Potato for Profit and Health Initiative, recently requested a Fieldbook demonstration from CIMMYT experts.

Fieldbook is CIMMYT software specially designed for managing maize breeding programs. The software manages pedigrees, data, seed stocks, and fieldbooks. Marianne Bänziger, CIMMYT’s deputy director general of Research and Partnerships, initially developed Fieldbook, which was further improved by Bindi Vivek, CIMMYT maize breeder. Now in its eighth version, Fieldbook is freely available from CIMMYT and is used by breeders from the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and by several national agricultural system partners.

On 31 March 2010, Dan Makumbi, CIMMYT maize breeder, and Joseph Kasango, CIMMYT research technician, conducted an hour of requested interactive training on the use of Fieldbook and demonstrated the application’s main features for the CIP breeders, their new research information systems manager, Jens Riis-Jacobsen, and other participants. The training was to help the CIP team discover if they could adapt the software for their new sweet potato initiative.

“Our breeders were very interested. Although the main difference between maize and sweet potato breeding is the starting material (vines for sweet potato), we are confident that we can adapt and use the Fieldbook for our work,” said Riis-Jacobsen, who used to be based at CIMMYT-Mexico when Fieldbook was under development. CIMMYT’s Makumbi agreed that the session was a success. “The training session was great for us to exchange views, and to find out whether Fieldbook can be of use to breeders working on other crops,” he said.

CIMMYT has also received follow-up requests for similar training and copies of Fieldbook from maize breeders from the Kenya-based firm East African Seeds. For more information about Fieldbook visit: here.