Germplasm curators dig into data

With accurate data records and improved data management skills, genebank curators in Africa can more easily share information about traditional vegetables and get a better picture of the overall global status of these important crops. 


A workshop to train germplasm curators from Tanzania, Zambia, and Burundi who maintain germplasm databases on digitizing and sharing passport data with a focus on traditional vegetables was held from 28 May to 1 June 2018 at World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) Eastern and Southern Africa office in Arusha, Tanzania. The workshop was part of a project under the Biodiversity Information for Development (BID) program for Africa 2017, funded by the European Union through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). The program’s main objective is to publish records of traditional African vegetables with GBIF to support biodiversity research and conservation of these vegetables.

Fifteen people from project partner organizations National Plant Genetic Resources Center (NPGRC), Tanzania; the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Tanzania; ISABU, Burundi; and the Southern Plant Genetic Resources Center (SPGRC-SADC), Zambia attended the workshop. ECHO East Africa also was invited to join the training course because it maintains databases for the collection of different traditional vegetables and trees. Four WorldVeg staff from the seed repository and breeding program participated as trainees. The workshop included training on planning for mobilization and use of resources; introduction to Darwin core for the standardized formatting of the data; and the use of the Open Refine software program for data cleaning and editing; and spatial analysis for plant diversity and distribution with DIVA-GIS.

Government representative Innocent Ritte from the Meru District Council was invited to make a presentation and be part of the discussion on policy and decision making to improve production and consumption of traditional vegetables.

During the last two days of the workshop, the trainees learned the most important part: how to publish their data on GBIF. The participants then practiced with the Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT) to publish their data. All participants were excited to compile their data and publish using IPT, and to use GIS to analyze and visualize the passport data in their germplasm collection sites.

On Friday afternoon the group visited ECHO East Africa and NPGRC in Arusha, Tanzania.

Story and photos: Tsvetelina Stoilova and Maarten van Zonneveld

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