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Five-day technologists’ training at the BecA-ILRI Hub to enhance national agricultural research

After five days of intensive experiential learning at the BecA-ILRI Hub, six laboratory technologists from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda were equipped with skills that will enhance their capacity to support scientists, teach and design research at their home institutions.

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The training for technologists, conducted by the BecA-ILRI Hub from 27 February–03 March 2017 at ILRI’s Nairobi campus, is a deliberate effort to enhance support to emerging science leaders in national agricultural research systems (NARS). Every year, the BecA-ILRI Hub offers fellowships to over 50 NARS scientists through the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) program. These scientists enhance their skills and knowledge in research, and receive mentorship in science leadership and resource mobilization. 

There are however, limited opportunities for laboratory technologists and technicians in most African NARS, to upgrade their skills in tandem with the researchers. This poses a real challenge in getting effective support to sustain advanced research by ABCF research fellows on returning to their home institutions. During the 5-day training, the technologists experienced hands-on learning while embedded within diverse, ongoing research projects by ABCF research fellows. 

‘I have learnt how to use equipment available at my home institution but which lack staff trained to operate them,’ said John Mshanga from the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Tanzania.

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‘Through this workshop I have also made so many useful contacts,’ said Winnifred Akech from Makerere University, ‘I now know that there is support for me and the students I assist, beyond this workshop,’ she added. 

The pilot training will help the BecA-ILRI Hub to better understand the capacity gaps in agricultural bioscience research support in African NARS. 

‘Our alumni are key drivers of change within the NARS,’ said BecA-ILRI Hub capacity building senior scientist, Wellington Ekaya, adding that they can only be effective researchers and change agents if supported by technologists with the necessary capacity.

 

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