Centre for Dryland Agriculture and JR Biotek Foundation Conduct Training Workshop on Molecular Laboratory

The Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA) and JR Biotek Foundation conducted a hands-on plant molecular biology laboratory training workshop held at the CDA from 28th to 2nd July, 2021. 

The training workshop funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund was part of JR Biotek Foundation’s Reach and Teach Science in Africa flagship program which aims to advance agricultural research and innovation to achieve food security in Africa. 

Speaking through zoom platform, the founder and President of JR Biotech Foundation, Dr. Carol Ibe expressed pleasure in welcoming outstanding early-career agricultural researchers from Nigerian universities and research institutes to participate in this high quality laboratory training facilitated by excellent researchers.  

She said the training workshop would avail the participants the opportunities to learn new transferable scientific laboratory skills and connect with other researchers, possibly leading to new professional relationships and collaborations that promote new avenues and perspectives to solving Africa’s challenges. 

According to her, JR Bioteck Foundation’s vision is to train, inspire and empower Africa’s present and future research and bio-industry leaders who can effectively tackle food and nutrition insecurity on the continent.  Dr Ibe further commended the immense contribution of CDA, saying that “we can work together to transform Africa’s agricultural sector into a productive, effective, and efficient sector that provides useful opportunities and practical solutions to sustainable food production.” 

In his welcoming remarks, the Director, Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA), Professor Jibrin Mohammed Jibrin, said the training is apt and timely considering the geometrical increase of population without corresponding food production in Africa and the persisting food loss. “We have problems of pest and diseases which devastate our crops. In Africa the loss is so high.” 

The Director further said that there is a need for cutting edge science and knowledge of molecular biology to address some of the problems that constrain food production which the training workshop provided. He urged the participants to learn well and apply the knowledge into practice to help solve the perennial Africa’s food security challenges. 

“You can also train others so that we have mass human resources that can assist in tackling our problems,” said the Director CDA, Professor Jibrin. 

The main objective of the laboratory hands-on session is to demonstrate the basic principles of molecular biology, including the Polymerase Chain Reaction (a technique used to amplify genomic DNA from plant or animal tissues), complimentary DNA synthesis by reverse transcriptase, real-time or RT-PCR, and the phenotypic characterization of root infecting mutualistic fungi in maize and peanut. 

In addition to the hands-on training is a Bio innovation for Africa Pitch Challenge, developed to encourage African scientists and stakeholders to work more collaboratively to develop solutions to some of the most pressing challenges hampering Africa’s sustainable development. This initiative is the 4th edition whilst previous editions have led to the creation of innovative projects (in Africa) that are making a huge impact on smallholder farmers and farming systems in the region.