In its second and final phase, the Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) focused on promoting and enabling the adoption of modern molecular breeding strategies and facilitative informatics technologies by developing-country breeding programmes. To help achieve this, GCP revitalised and refocused its capacity-building efforts. The result of this was the Integrated Breeding Multi-Year Course (IB-MYC), a comprehensive modular 6-week training programme spread over three years. The course commenced in April 2012 with 170 collaborators from 31 countries in West and Central Africa (WCA), East and Southern Africa (ESA) and South and South East Asia (SSEA). Ten crops were represented (Common Bean, Cassava, Chickpea, Cowpea, Groundnut, Maize, Sorghum, Soybean, Rice and Wheat).
Participants received intensive face-to-face training workshops supported by online and other resources made available through the Integrated Breeding Platform Web Portal. The course curriculum focused on integrated breeding approaches, data management and statistical analysis – combining both theoretical concepts and hands-on training on the various BMS tools; imparting vital skills in experiment design, data collection and management, data analysis and breeding decision making. Trainees were assessed through assignments after each training session, assignments which they were required to pass to proceed to the next stage. 146 trainees proceeded to the second year, and 134 completed the programme in 2014.
The ultimate goal of the programme was to build a critical mass of scientists trained in integrated breeding approaches in each of the targeted regions, capable of proficiently employing modern molecular breeding methodologies and using cutting edge bioinformatics tools in their work. The IB-MYC alumni are anticipated to spearhead the adoption of the Breeding Management System in their programmes, countries and regions – providing both training and first level user support to colleagues.