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Scientists open up to Fieldbook

zimbabwe1Is it possible for a software to act as a one-stop shop and help manage maize breeding? Indeed it is, and CIMMYT’s Fieldbook provides both.

This was the proof of the pudding for 15 visiting scientists in Harare, Zimbabwe. During 15–19 June 2009, CIMMYT-Zimbabwe hosted scientists from Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe under the New Seed Initiative for Maize in Africa (NSIMA) / Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project. The visiting scientists learned to use Fieldbook, CIMMYT software designed for managing maize breeding programs. The software helps in handling field experiments, data, stocks, and pedigree  information. The participants practiced by analyzing their own data with the software.

Fieldbook is freely available. It is designed as a collection of macros in Visual Basic, and works with Microsoft Excel. Fieldbook gurus Cosmos Mogorokosho and Simbarashe Chisoro handled the introductory session. Peter Setimela, CIMMYT maize breeder, covered variety testing and release, showing participants how to summarize and prepare formats for variety release and registration. John MacRobert, CIMMYT maize seed systems specialist, coordinated an afternoon to explore various aspects of seed production. To familiarize themselves with the CIMMYT breeding program and other opportunities in the country, the scientists visited Mzarabani, a flood-prone rural area in northern  Zimbabwe.

At the end of the course, the participants felt their experience had been worthwhile, as expressed by P.G. Rupende from SeedCo, “I have used other software for managing breeding materials and analyses, but this is the best thing I have gone through. Fieldbook is a userfriendly program.” The proof of the pudding is truly in the eating—especially where one’s pudding is made of maize seed.