CORAF organised a regional training workshop in biostatistics and bioinformatics from 10 to 20 July 2023. The event took place at the Centre régional d’études pour l’amélioration de l’adaptation des plantes à la sécheresse (CERAAS) in Thiès, Senegal. The aim of the workshop was to improve the biostatistical and bioinformatics skills of researchers from the national research systems of the countries participating in the West African Food System Resilience Programme (FASRP).

This initiative is part of sub-component 2.1 of the FSRP, implemented by CORAF, which aims to strengthen the capacities of national and regional research centres. The actions carried out during this workshop can be summarised as follows:

  1. Training in state-of-the-art research methods: Researchers were exposed to the latest research methods and tools in biostatistics and bioinformatics. This training enabled them to acquire the skills needed to effectively manage and analyse complex agricultural data.
  2. Facilitation of knowledge exchange: The workshop served as a platform for knowledge exchange between participants from different West African countries. This collaboration strengthens regional cooperation and builds collective capacity to address common challenges.
  3. Promoting resilient food systems: A central focus of the workshops was to advocate the increased use of biostatistics and bioinformatics to develop more resilient food systems. Participants were encouraged to identify ideas for research projects that exploit these techniques to address critical challenges in agriculture.
  4. Facilitating access to tools: Access to the tools and consumables needed to apply biostatistics and bioinformatics methods in agricultural research has been facilitated for participants. This support ensures that the knowledge acquired can be applied effectively in their work.

Throughout the workshop, participants were involved in hands-on training and group exercises. Topics covered included computer programming tools, data collection and analysis, artificial intelligence in agriculture and the creation of specific scripts for data processing and analysis. These sessions were designed to ensure that participants gained practical experience and were able to apply their new knowledge effectively.

The practical impact of biostatistics and bioinformatics in solving agricultural challenges was presented through group work and presentations, which took place during the final days of the workshops. As participants return to their respective institutions armed with new skills and knowledge, the effect of these training sessions promises to stimulate positive change within national agricultural research systems.