Reinforcing Team Capacity in the African Union Project: Field data collection training workshop
Twenty field technicians from the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) and IITA participated in a one-day capacity building workshop at the IITA headquarters in Ibadan, Nigeria. The training aimed to provide them with the necessary tools for data collection in field trials established in various locations under the project: “Enhancing nutritional quality of plantain food products through improved access to endophyte primed and high pro-vitamin A plantain cultivars under integrated soil fertility management practices in Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon”.
The training followed previous online sessions given to all technical teams working on the project at IITA and NIHORT in Nigeria, IITA and the University of BEAU in Cameroon, and the Institute of Agronomic and Forestry Research (IRAF) in Gabon. However, this field training had only Nigerian-based participants, 5 from NIHORT and 15 from the IITA Plantain and Banana Improvement Program (PBIP), due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project, funded by the African Union (AU), has the goal of initiating a biocontrol program against major banana biotic constraints in the context of integrated pest management (IPM) and integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) against the banana weevil (Cosmopolites sordidus), the burrowing nematode (Radopholus similis), and black Sigatoka (causal pathogen, Pseudocercospora fijiensis), in Cameroon, Gabon, and Nigeria. Achieving this required field technicians to be trained in standardized agronomic and pest data collection.
IITA Banana Plant Pathologist Yao Kolombia convened the meeting. The Head of the IITA plantain and banana breeding program in Ibadan, Delphine Amah, gave an overview of the project, buttressing the relevance of data collection to the project and the need to take data at the appropriate time for the ongoing IPM and ISFM field trials.
In his opening remarks, Kolombia highlighted the key parameters to be collected and the parameter definition, emphasizing the need to follow the data collection guidelines regarding MusaBase and the recording sheet established.
The trainees visited the IITA plantain field where the practical demonstration sessions on agronomic data collection, black Sigatoka scoring, sample collection and root scoring for nematode evaluation, and the corm scoring for the weevil damage took place. Participants learned how to use the harmonized recording sheets for data collection.
At the end of the field training, participants continued with feedback, remarks, and observations at a practical data mining session. The participants lauded the efforts of IITA and the AU in sponsoring this workshop.