Background of the project
CFF has gathered experts from both within and outside Malaysia with the common goal of conducting research on underutilised crops. As part of its mandate, it has developed an underutilised crop breeding programme for income generation and food security: BamYIELD. At the centre of BamYIELD is a flagship project; a multi-location field trials system. The ability to conduct robust, well designed and well executed trials in multiple environments according to common protocols underpins any breeding and research programme and is a pre-requisite to being able to approach international funders for support. The multi-location field trials system is the first stage in implementing the broader BamYIELD programme of developing new genetic material from underutilised crop species for income generation and food security. This will be done through a mixture of shared pump priming funding, external contributions and collaborative research giving access to partner facilities and expertise.
This project builds on over twenty years of bambara groundnut research and seeks to drive innovations and developed knowledge in this crop through to new materials and processes. The project complements the ITPGRFA-BSF (supported by EU) Project by bringing in additional partners into the multi-location field trials system from other countries and agro-environments.
- Explore possibilities of obtaining external grant funding
- Broaden networks of contacts in Africa, particularly in the case of Tunisia
- Raise interest in current bambara groundnut/BamYIELD research as well as CFF in general, particularly in the case of Tunisia
- Learn from the ‘Sutton Bonington system’, particularly in coordinating and running field research.
Visit to Department of Research and Specialists Services – Crop Breeding institute (DR&SS-CBI), Zimbabwe
On 14 December 2016 to 16 December 2016, Dr. Feldman visited DR & SS – CBI to discuss experimental design, funding, genotyping (molecular mapping and DArTseq), AG panel submission, phenotyping and future directions with Ms. Busiso Makaveni, acting head, and Dr. Tafadazwanashe Mabhaudhi, research scientist at University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Other talks with Dr. Mabhaudhi were on future crop trials, sources of funding, a strategy for creating a Southern Africa sub-consortium and testing photoperiod insensitivity with other Mediterranean partners was held on the next day.
Visit to Acacias For All (A4A), Tunisia
On 18 December to 22 December, Dr. Feldman was in Tunisia visiting the Acacia For All (A4A) initiative. A briefing was given by Ms. Mouna, a researcher of A4A, to gain a better understanding of the activities, scope and stakeholders of A4A. In Bir Salah, Dr. Feldman met with Ms. Sarah Toumi, the person who created and leads A4A. He was then brought to visit A4A moringa (producing moringa value-added products) and acacias (producing Arabic gum) plots. There, an impressive presentation was given to introduce the ‘North Africa Climate Lab’ programme. A discussion regarding bambara groundnut and further potential areas for collaboration helped gain an understanding of the situation and issues in Tunisia in terms of climate, environment, socioeconomics and agriculture. A4A is gaining attention from diverse stakeholders and a big challenge for Ms. Toumi is how to upscale while retaining her own freedom to direct the programme the way she intends it to be, and also ensuring trust between all involved. He was given a chance to visit volunteers and staff including ambassadors of A4A from other areas of Tunisia at Bir Salah. He was introduced to a couple of farms that followed the Acacias For All scheme. During his time there, he presented his work for CFF as well as introducing CFF’s overall mission. Dr. Feldman also met with Asma Mansour and her group from the Tunisian Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Asma Mansour, is the key person that initiates the idea of social entrepreneur in Tunisia by organizing programmes, collaboration with Universities and training in order to shift perceptions, creating jobs and increasing economic opportunities in Tunisia.
Visit to University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus (UNSB), UK
A discussion was held with Dr. Debbie Sparkes, an Associate Professor in Agronomy, about the particulars of previous and new experimental designs. How to improve the field working system such as timetabling, chemical spraying and centralizing the field data were also discussed.
Another discussion was held with Dr. Erik Murchie, an Associate Professor in Crop Science, mainly on standardizing protocols of phenotyping.
Dr. Feldman discussed crop disease control, irrigation systems, standardization of farm records and filing, farm, staff and trials management with John Alcock, a Technical Specialist.
The last session of discussion was held with Dr. Presidor Kendabie, a Research Fellow. The planning of future research and publications, phenotyping techniques, genotypic variation, photoperiod sensitivity and planting techniques were all discussed.
Conclusion from both sets of visits
The tour proved to be fruitful, strengthening links with old partners (IITA, CSIR-CRI, DR&SS-CBI and UNSB) while bringing in new partners into the network (A4A). There is evidently a lot of opportunity for standardizing and streamlining the international, coordinated field trials system. Looking forward into the future, working along the whole research value chain, novel research projects will be initiated that should bring interesting outputs for multiple stakeholders.