Strengthening the soybean variety development and testing network: IITA hosts collaborative training for West African breeders

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The IITA Soybean program organized a training session for National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) partners in West Africa under the ‘Strengthening soybean improvement for Africa’ project. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project aims to strengthen the CGIAR-NARS partnership on variety development and testing efforts. The inaugural training, held at the IITA headquarters from 19 to 22 June, aimed to harmonize and standardize soybean variety development, evaluation, testing schemes, and data collection and management techniques among IITACGIAR and NARS partners.

IITA Soybean Breeder and event convener, Abush Abebe, emphasized that the meeting was not merely a training session but a platform to share experiences and create a common understanding among the breeders representing the various NARS partners, i.e., the National Soybean Breeding Programs of Benin, Mali, and Nigeria, and Universities in Nigeria (the Ajayi Crowther University, University of Ilorin, and Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University (JoSTUM) (Formerly the Federal University of Agriculture) Makurdi, and the University of Ekiti) on various areas of collaborations with the NARS partners. He stressed the importance of strengthening partnerships and developing a standardized variety testing and evaluation protocol to increase efficiency and improve soybean breeding and research. “Bad data misleads the end-users, but good data equals good decisions,” he said, highlighting the critical role of high-quality data.

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