GIS training course for agricultural research in Africa successfully completed

Eighteen trainees drawn from various sectors in Nigeria, DR Congo, Ghana, Malawi, and Rwanda have successfully completed a training course on Geographical Information System (GIS) in Ibadan conducted by the IITA Geo-Spatial Laboratory with the support of the Capacity Development Office (CDO).

Dr Kenton Dashiell, DDG Partnerships and Capacity Development, welcomed the participants on behalf of Zoumana Bamba, Head of CDO. He highlighted the numerous opportunities for using GIS as a tool for analysis and decision-making and urged the trainees to use the knowledge derived from the training to improve the research activities in their regions.

The training focus was on the use of GIS as a tool in agricultural development research. The objective was to enable participants to understand the basic concepts of GIS and to discover how it can be applied in the context of IITA’s research-for-development agenda in a descriptive, analytical, and predictive manner. The participants were exposed to various GIS tools that enable dynamic decision-making in priority setting, spatial targeting, trial site selection, and the dissemination of research through simple maps. Particular emphasis was placed on how to bring field data from surveys and trials into a GIS and perform analysis in the spatial dimension.

The course combined intensive lectures and practical sessions on basic concepts of GIS and ArcGIS, the use of symbols on maps and cartographic design, GIS data needs for natural resource applications, geoprocessing and GIS modeling tools in agricultural research, designing maps with GIS, and the use of global positioning systems (GPS).

At the end of the training participants were ready to go and apply spatial technologies for priority setting and improved decision making for the R4D agenda of the Institute. The resource persons were Mr Michael Haertel, GIS Database Expert, Mr Tunrayo Alabi, the GIS Support Services Manager, and Mrs Sarah Chiejile, GIS Data Analyst.

IITA’s Youth Agripreneurs convene a 3-week intensive training for the youth in Borno State

The IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) have convened a 3-week intensive agricultural training for selected young people from Borno State. Areas of focus cover on-field sessions on fish farming and production, processing and marketing of maize, cowpea, soybean, millet, groundnut, and sorghum. The training is another in a series of youth empowerment campaigns in Nigeria that the IYA have organized since their inception in 2012. It also endorses the replication of the IITA youth in agribusiness model in Borno.

IITA agripreneurs (Lemon T-Shirt) and Borno youths (Blue T-Shirt) in a group photo during the training.
IITA agripreneurs (Lemon T-Shirt) and Borno youths (Blue T-Shirt) in a group photo during the training.

At the opening session, 3 September, Molayo Owoeye, leading the team of Agripreneur-facilitators from IITA Headquarters in Ibadan, stated “This training will harness the potential of Borno youth to create their own employment, identify the strengths of trainees, and proffer the knowledge and skills required to generate wealth successfully from agriculture.” She added, “The training in particular is about developing entrepreneurial skills in agriculture, helping young people to identify and make use of their innate potentials, strengthen weaknesses, exploit opportunities, and eliminate threats in terms of doing business in agriculture.”

Entrepreneurship in agriculture has become a critical pathway in many African countries for creating employment and simultaneously driving productivity and economic growth. National programs invest in young people with multidisciplinary backgrounds to catalyze economic development while at the same time reducing unemployment and creating income through agribusiness. To support this drive, IYA are motivated to share their experiences with other groups of young people and encourage them to embrace farming as a business and improve their quality of life while contributing meaningfully to sustainable development.

Dr Emmanuel Sangodele is the Nigeria Project Coordinator of the N2Africa program–a large-scale, science research project focused on putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers growing legume crops in Africa. He praised IITA for its concerted efforts in ensuring that youth unemployment is erased in Africa, and said, “The youth initiative and training is extremely insightful and is coming at a time when young people in Borno need financial and occupational stability. N2Africa is strongly committed to collaborate with IYA in launching agribusiness-based solutions to eradicate youth unemployment in Borno.”

Experts in agriculture acted as resource persons for the training. These included Dr Alpha Kamara, Head of the IITA Kano Station, Alhaji Sani Aliu Meedugu, Permanent Secretary/Project Manager, ADP Borno, and Prof Alphonse Emechebe, IITA Plant Pathologist and Independent Plant Management Specialist.

The training was organized in collaboration with N2Africa-to-Borno project under the auspices of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

AgResults AflasafeTM team trains partners

Participants at the AgResults meeting in Ibadan
Participants at the AgResults meeting in Ibadan

The AgResults AflasafeTM team has successfully completed a 2-day training in Ibadan for its implementers. Welcoming participants, the AgResults Pilot Manager, Debo Akande, reiterated the project’s commitment to supporting and providing solutions to farmers for improving safety and increasing productivity of maize.

He described the training as a unique model to advance the biocontrol of aflatoxin to Nigerian farmers through the involvement of market players, the private sector, and other key stakeholders in maize value chain to ensure sustainability of aflasafeTM adoption.

The AgResults project seeks to promote the adoption of aflasafeTM – a biocontrol technology with a proven efficacy to reduce aflatoxin contamination in grains by as much as 90% – among smallholder maize farmers in Nigeria. The project currently works with 11 implementers from various small and micro-enterprises to disseminate the technology.

The focus of the training was to inform implementers of the project objectives and mode of operation, demonstrate method of aflasafeTM application, use of other aflatoxin management practices, maize agronomy, and business development opportunities with low-aflatoxin maize.

Mr Akande said that since over 70% of food in Nigeria was currently produced by smallholder farmers, implementers were expected to pass on this information and demonstrate it to 5,000 farming families in 2014. This would change them from subsistence farmers to becoming farmers inclined to agribusiness. He said, “We expect that 110 t of aflasafeTM will be applied on 11,000 ha of maize fields in 2014. AgResults will also provide incentives for this group of farmers to facilitate adoption of this biocontrol technology.’’

Dr Joseph Atehnkeng, Coordinator for Aflatoxin Control in West Africa; Dr Silvestro Meseka, IITA Maize Breeder; and Lawrence Kaptoge, Process Engineer AflasafeTM Manufacturing Plant, were among the key stakeholders that made presentations during the training.  They stressed the importance of good management practices while stating that bad sanitation, poor management, and improper storage were linked to high levels of aflatoxin contamination.

The AgResults project is a multilateral initiative (G-20) managed by Deloitte Monitor. The Initiative receives support from the Governments of Australia, Canada, the UK, and USA, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It aims to use results-based cash incentives – in the form of “pull mechanisms,” – to spur the adoption of innovation and technology to promote agricultural development and food security.




IITA-Kano station hosts SAS training


Participants at the SAS training in Kano
Participants at the SAS training in Kano

ITA Kano station in collaboration with ICRISAT Nigeria hosted a week’s training on Statistics and Statistical Computing Course with SAS. The participants were drawn from IITA, ICRISAT, and other partners from Ahmadu Bello Univerisity, Zaria; and Bayero University, Kano. There were also participants from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, and the Lake Chad Research Institute.

The training was facilitated by Mr Sam Ofodile and Mrs Olayemi Oluwasoga of the Biometrics Unit in IITA-Ibadan who coached the 27 participants from Monday 16 to Friday 20 December 2013.

In his opening speech, Dr Alpha Kamara, IITA Station Representative urged participants to pay attention to the training and highlighted the importance of the training to scientific writing.

The one-week intensive training taught participants how to:

• Use Genstat – Introduction to the software

  Write  SAS codes and complex data management

• Generate descriptive statistics and explore data with graphs

• Generate and interpret sample statistics using the UNIVARIATE and MEANS procedures

• Detect associations among variables

• Perform analysis of variance and apply multiple comparison techniques

• Perform linear and multiple regression and assess the assumptions

• Fit a multiple and binomial logistic regression model

• Perform multivariate analysis

The training was formally closed on Friday afternoon with the presentation of certificates by Mr Ado Rabo, IITA Station Administrator.