The West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF), as part of the Food System Resilience Program in West Africa (PRSA/FSRP), recently concluded a series of regional training workshops aimed at strengthening the skills of stakeholders of national agricultural research systems (NARS) in biotechnology and bioinformatics. These workshops, which took place from 10 to 20 July and from 11 to 22 December 2023 at the Faculty of Science and Technology of the Cheikh Anta Diop University (FST/UCAD) in Dakar, gathered more than 50 participants, including researchers, students and engineers from Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Senegal and Togo.

These participants had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and develop practical skills in key scientific fields including biotechnology and bioinformatics. These regional trainings are part of the strategy of CORAF and the FSRP project to strengthen the skills of researchers and actors of national agricultural research systems.

“We seek to strengthen our national agricultural research systems, particularly the National Centres of Specialization with cutting-edge scientific expertise. This initiative is part of our commitment to accelerate agricultural development in West and Central Africa by providing practical knowledge and concrete tools to shape the future of research”, said Dr Niéyidouba Lamien, program manager at CORAF.

With a total commitment of 50 participants for both trainings, CORAF through the West Africa Food System Resilience Program (FSRP) has successfully achieved its target. This holistic approach aims to equip the region with the skills to meet agricultural and food challenges in an innovative and sustainable way.

“ The aim of the training was to strength capacities of researchers from the sub-region with new sequencing technologies and the exploitation of genomic data to help them improve agricultural productivity and better support their varietal improvement projects,” stressed Prof Diaga DIOUF, UCAD training expert.

The training modules covered crucial topics such as basic concepts and application of biotechnological methods and tools in agriculture, modern methods for diagnosing plant and animal diseases, and tools for crop and animal genetic improvement. In addition, sessions were devoted to the analysis of sequencing data and the exploitation of genetic databases. Participants gained in-depth knowledge of the use of modern methods in agricultural research, thus improving their ability to contribute to more resilient food systems.

Through this training, CORAF renews its commitment to strengthening the capacity of national agricultural research systems (NARS) in West and Central Africa and the creation of a community of researchers better equipped to face the current challenges of the agricultural sector.