Ten wheat breeders from national agricultural research systems (NARSs) in Asia, Africa and Latin America have participated in the 2007 Intermediate Wheat Improvement course, which is drawing to a close after three successful months. “This course addresses the strong demand from our partners for comprehensive hands-on training for field breeders, and shows CIMMYT’s ongoing commitment to supporting capacity building in NARS partners,” says Petr Kosina, CIMMYT’s capacity building coordinator.
Course participants have been exposed to all aspects of CIMMYT’s multidisciplinary research approach. In addition to wide-ranging classes, they have spent most of their time in the field at Ciudad Obregón, Sonora State, in northern Mexico, getting involved in many of the activities of the breeding cycle. “Learning about CIMMYT breeders’ methodologies has been very useful,” says Stephan de Groot from South Africa, “and we’ve had the chance to see a wider perspective.” Adel Hagras of Egypt also values the experience of learning how the center works: “CIMMYT is a holy place for wheat breeding!” he says. At Obregón, the trainees selected germplasm that would be particularly valuable for the conditions in their countries and for their own research. They will receive seed of these lines next year, giving them direct and early access to promising materials.
Even more than the tangible benefits, they value the relationships they have built. In working here, the trainees have become part of the broad CIMMYT family and have created and strengthened links with other scientists. Luis Ponce Molina from Ecuador has appreciated the opportunity to share experiences and meet people working in the same area. “It’s important to have a good network,” he says. “The course has created possibilities for me for future collaboration.”
CIMMYT seems to have left a good impression: according to Stephan the highlight of the course was “the general positive mentality of all the breeders and researchers in working together, their professional attitude and their enthusiasm in the field.” There is still plenty to pack in before the trainees return home next week, and they will be leaving with new knowledge, new partners, and new inspiration. The course may be finishing, but their relationship with CIMMYT is just beginning: we’ll be in touch soon!