Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Sowing the seeds of rice self-sufficiency in Africa through capacity building

Workshop participants discuss constraints in the production and delivery of quality rice seed in Uganda.

IRRI works closely with national research and extension systems (NARES) in making scientific knowledge and expertise on rice science more widely accessible. Together with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), IRRI aims to improve the quality of rice seed production, which contributes to food and livelihood security of smallholder farmers in member countries of the Coalition of African Rice Development (CARD).

Since 2016, IRRI-JICA-PhilRice has developed and facilitated two training programs in the Philippines: the three-week Quality Breeder and Foundation Seed Course conducted at IRRI Headquarters and the eight-week Specialized Course on Rice Seed Production and Extension held at PhilRice Central Experiment Station. To date, 83 individuals have been trained from 18 out of 23 CARD member countries.

The IRRI-JICA-PhilRice training team recently conducted a monitoring and evaluation activity for alumni of these training programs in Uganda and Ghana. “The in-country follow-up activity allows us to assess what knowledge and skills the former training participants are utilizing from the training and are able to share with their colleagues,” notes Jason Beebout, IRRI extension agronomist and project coordinator.  “This assessment gives us a picture of the impact our training programs have on the alumni and on the national institutions that they belong to,” adds Beebout.

Dr. Samuel Abebrese, a rice breeder with the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute and former IRRI-JICA training scholar, facilitates a discussion on quality factors in rice seed production  at a training held in Kumasi, Ghana.

The graduates of the training activities and their supervisors met with the training team to discuss how they were able to use the knowledge and skills they have gained in improving the national seed value chain in their own countries.

Two-day training workshops were also conducted with 25 participants engaged in different roles in the national seed system. The workshops, which were jointly facilitated by former trainees in the Philippines, served as a platform to discuss constraints and ways forward in producing and delivering quality rice seed within their national seed system.

Participants of the training workshop noted that the training provided a unique opportunity for various stakeholders to come together and discuss something important for everyone - how to address issues of production and delivery of quality rice seed. “A key objective was to develop linkages between the trained participants and other stakeholders involved in the national seed system. These linkages can hopefully contribute to the growth and development of a vibrant rice seed system,” Beebout says. 

These in-country events were implemented from February 18 to March 3 as components of the “Extension Capacity Development for Rice Food Security in Africa”, the second phase of the collaboration of IRRI, JICA, and PhilRice.

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