A bilingual training workshop targeting field research technicians was conducted by GCP Staff and data management consultants from the 23rd to the 27th of January 2012 in Bamako, Mali. The workshop, organised in collaboration with the Institut d’Economie Rurale du Mali (IER) and AGRICON International of Canada, brought together 28 participants from ongoing GCP research projects in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. They represented molecular breeding projects in cowpeas, groundnuts, rice and sorghum.
The workshop specifically targeted personnel that carry out the routine daily operations in field trials, including planting, plot labelling, data collection, data transcription and harvesting. The course was designed to equip them with knowledge and skills to ensure the highest possible quality of phenotyping data – necessary for accurately identifying beneficial genomic regions for recombination and the development of improved varieties in molecular breeding programmes.
The workshop programme included training in the use of electronic fieldbooks and the Samsung Galaxy tablet for data collection. Participants were particularly enthusiastic about the tablet, and were heartbroken that they had to surrender the tool at the end of the course – except for a lucky fifteen! However, with the ongoing distribution of the tablet to developing country partners collaborating on GCP projects, it is anticipated that all these enthusiastic trainees will sooner rather than later be supplied with one to keep. With the training they received, they will be enthusiastic advocates for electronic data collection in their projects, and are expected to provide valuable feedback for the improvement of the IB Fieldbook and other tools.
An important lesson coming out of this workshop was that it would be immensely beneficial for breeders to attend future courses alongside their technical field staff. Participation by Dr Alhassan Maji, a rice breeder, added great value as did the presence of a number of young PhD students. Repeat workshops targeting other regions in which GCP is engaged are targeted for April and June 2012 – details to follow in the coming weeks. For further information, contact Arllet Portugal and/or Ndeye Ndack Diop at the Generation Challenge Programme.