The AfricaYam Project held its 5th Annual Progress Review and Work Planning Meeting from 24th-29th of March, 2019 at Grand Pela Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria. The opening ceremony was held on the 25th of March, 2019 at a joint session/discussion with RTB foods at Ibeto Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria. The meeting was attended by Scientists, Project’s Partners and stakeholders from eight countries; namely, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Ghana, Japan, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the USA. The four-day meeting was organized to review the progress made on the project in 2018 and develop a work plan for 2020.
In his opening address, IITA Director of Research, West Africa, Dr Robert Asiedu, represented by the Head of IITA Abuja Station, Dr Gbassey Tarawali, expressed his gratitude for the support Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the partners of national yam programs in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria have given to developing capacity and a community of practice for yam breeding in West Africa. Dr Asiedu said “The foundation that has been laid through the AfricaYam and RTBfoods projects places us in a good position to advance yam breeding using modern approaches and tools”.
He further stated that yam breeders are fully committed towards the drive to modernize crop breeding in the public sector, in line with the ‘Crops to end Hunger Initiative’ and in collaboration with the Excellence-in-Breeding platform. The breeders will also collaborate with other projects and agencies in the public and private sectors towards efficient and effective delivery of these preferred products.
Participants listening to presentations at the Annual Meeting
AfricaYam Project Leader, Dr. Patrick Adebola during his presentation and discussion on progress reports and capacity development, outlined some of the project’s achievements which include training of people in data collection, pollination techniques, phenotyping and selection of plants, field output and the establishment of Yam Community of Practice (YCoP) with over 200 registered and active members. He said the purpose of the community is for information sharing on yam activities.
Dr. Adebola said the project has achieved a lot and hopes to do more in terms of implementation of breeding strategies for the delivery of improved varieties and strengthening of human capacity in partner programs through the training of a new generation of yam breeders and scientists in the second phase of the project.
The AfricaYam is led by IITA and is collaborating with other research institutions outside Africa including Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), France; Iwate Biotechnology Research Center (IBRC), Japan; Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), Cornell University, USA; Japan International Research Centre for Agriculture (JIRCAS), Japan; and James Hutton Institute (JHI), UK. The project also works with research organizations in the four main yam producing countries: the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) and the Ebonyi State University (EBSU) in Nigeria; two research institutes under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Ghana (the Crops Research Institute and the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute); le Centre National de Recherché Agronomique (CNRA), Côte d’Ivoire; and Université d’Abomey-Calavi (UAC), Dassa Center, Benin.
The Project’s 5th Annual Progress Review and Work Planning Meeting ended on the 28th of March 2019 with a closing remark by the project leader, Dr. Adebola who thanked the donors, participants and members of the project advisory committee for their contributions and dedication towards the project.