KNUST Faculty Of Agriculture Hosts Plant Breeding E-Learning Workshop 2019
The Faculty of Agriculture of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in collaboration with Iowa State University, Ames, USA has conducted the First Plant Breeding E-Learning Workshop for Plant Breeding Educators in selected public Universities in Ghana. Participants were drawn from the Universities of Cape Coast (UCC), Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), Development Studies (UDS) and Education Winneba (Mampong campus).
The objective of the weeklong workshop was to share the e-learning resources that have been developed by three African Universities; KNUST, Makerere University, Uganda; and the University of Kwa Zulu Natal South Africa and Iowa State University, (ISU), USA to improve training of graduates in Africa under the “Plant Breeding Education for Africa (PBEA) Project”.
Giving a brief overview on the project, Professor Richard Akromah, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, said the workshop was supported by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Over a five-year period, the collaborating institutions have developed e-learning resources in key areas, including Crop Genetics, Crop Improvement, Quantitative Genetics, Quantitative Methods, Molecular Plant Breeding and Cultivar Development, he explained.
According to him the e-learning resources have been used to train Ninety-one (91) Postgraduate Students in Plant Breeding by the 3 African Universities with KNUST graduating Thirty-one (31) in MPhil. He revealed that the graduates in three Cohorts were drawn from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, many of whom have either secured employment in Agricultural Research Institutions or joined the private or public seed sector in their respective countries.
Prof Akromah believes that certified seed usage and matching applications of other simple agricultural technologies can lead to doubling of current crop yields in the sub-region and ensure food security. Also, an increase in the number of plant breeders who can develop improved varieties with significant genetic gains quickly in either the private seed companies or public sector, using modern data management and breeding methodologies will eventually lead to increased food production.
At the end workshop, participants were introduced to the e-learning resources and shown how they can be used to improve teaching and learning in their respective institutions. Furthermore, they were given access to register for these valuable online resource directly from the Iowa State University site, https//pbea.agron.iastate.edu/login.
Collaborators from the Professional Learning Community (PLC) in Iowa State University viz Professor Michael Retallick and Dr. Judith Levings also took participants through lively sessions on improving the preparation of Lesson Plans and Lectures, Classroom Responses and handling large classes, creating Applied Learning Activities and setting Multiple Choice Questions (MSQ).
KNUST and ISU, together with AGRA, are of the shared opinion that these modules will assist in the promotion of quality Plant Breeding Education in Africa.