African Centre for Crop Improvement

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African Centre for Crop Improvement

“Training African Breeders on African Crops, in Africa”


Prof Shimelis does training in 3 African countries

The ACCI’s deputy-director, Prof Hussein Shimelis, a regional expert in mutation breeding, travelled to three African countries recently to to share his knowledge.

Mutation breeding is a method where a breeder can enhance the genetic variation of a population to select genetically unique individuals.
Last year Shimelis helped formulate an African regional co-operaton agreement for research development and training of mutation breeding. The pact was signed by more than 20 member states of the African Regional Cooperative Agreement of Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA), who are working with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In the first week of July, Shimelis facilitated training at Njoro research centre in Nakuru, Kenya. The 21 trainees were selected from research centres run by Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and from four universities in Kenya.
Prof Hussein Shimelis (second right) with some of the students who attended the training session in mutation breeding he ran in Kenya
He said AFRA member states strive to contribute to sustainable food production and improved livelihoods through development and dissemination of improved mutation-induced varieties.
“As part of this initiative, the University of Eldoret in Kenya coordinates a national research project on improving crops using mutation induction and biotechnology through a farmer participatory approach,” he said. The project is coordinated by Professor Miriam Kinyua.
“I was a facilitator of a national training course organised by the University on the application of mutation breeding techniques in crop improvement,” he said, explaining that the training involved theoretical and practical sessions on phenotyping and selection of wheat and potato for biotic and abiotic stress tolerance in the field for variety development and release.
In May Shimelis went to Dakar, Senegal to do training in mutuation breeding with staff at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD).
His mission, supported by IAEA, involved providing technical assistance to UCAD in the application of mutation breeding and biotechnologies in cowpea, with a focus on speeding up mutation breeding. He evaluated cowpea breeding experiments at various sites in Senegal.
In June he visited Mannheim Research Station in Tsumeb, Namibia which is run by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF). His task there was to help with the development of breeding projects for long-term cowpea, sorghum, pearl millet and maize improvement in Namibia, using mutation and conventional breeding approaches.
Specialised training was provided to the research group at the station.
The Namibian breeding team recently released seven cowpea and four sorghum varieties, with breeding coordinated by ACCI graduate, Dr Lydia Horn, who is now a staff member at the University of Namibia.
The programme is supported by MAWF in collaboration with the IAEA.
Related article:  ACCI Prof in Demand as Regional Expert
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