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Welcome to the March edition of the Podcaster. I have been living in Arusha for the past five months on sabbatical leave from my position at Wageningen University, based at the IITA office in Tengeru. It’s been a great opportunity to spend some time with Dr Freddy Baijukya, the Tanzania N2Africa Coordinator and his team. We had a great field visit in January to the West Usambara mountains around Lushoto and joined a number of field days with local partners and farmers evaluating some of the field demonstrations on beans.

Photo: Farmers evaluating N2Africa technologies in Lushoto, West Usambara, northern Tanzania

It’s also been a perfect opportunity for me to connect with a range of NGOs and other partners with whom N2Africa works in Tanzania. Beans are everywhere and such an important part of the farming system and diet in this region.

Charlene McKoin, the N2Africa Senior Project Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, visited Arusha on the 3rd and 4th of March and we took the opportunity to Visit the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NMAIST) and discussed our collaboration with Professor Patrick Ndakidemi, Dr Kelvin Mtei and Yusuphu Namkeleja who is conducting his MSc research on rhizobia for Phaseolus beans. N2Africa has funded the establishment of a glasshouse at NMAIST which is close to being commissioned and will be an important resource for research and teaching.

Over the past six weeks I have been leading a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Growing our Future Food: Crops. We have used a lot of examples and videos from N2Africa, which provide an excellent teaching example focused on closing yield gaps in relation to feeding the world’s growing population. If you missed the course, don’t worry as we’ll be re-running it in in a few months time and will alert you when it comes online again.

We have a rich and varied collection of stories in this edition of the Podcaster. There are reports from our first established Public-Private Partnerships that have attracted new funding and are well set to scale out N2Africa technologies beyond our own targets. We have reports of workshops and from some of the many students who are conducting their PhD and MSc research for N2Africa. There are also a number of news items, including an item from Ilse de Jager and Theresa Ampadu-Boakye who received the Harvesting Nutrition Award on behalf of N2Africa for Most Scalable Approach: (YouTube video).

Please don’t forget to send in your own news from N2Africa – your colleagues across Africa are always interested to hear news from different parts of the continent.

Ken Giller