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I’m just back from Seattle where Fred Kanampiu, Theresa Ampadu-Boakye and Bernard Vanlauwe and I had meetings at the headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We were able to discuss progress and learnings with our two senior project officers, Charlene McKoin and Jeff Ehlers. Furthermore, we had meetings to discuss with Sam Thevasagayam the interim Director of Agricultural Development and with other senior staff from a wide range of thematic areas.

Theresa and I presented a "learning lunch" seminar, which was well attended and stimulated a vibrant discussion. Theresa is a natural presenter and she did a fantastic job in presenting our work – topics highlighted included Public-Private Partnerships, the interactive, online data management and M&E systems, inoculant delivery and the discovery research on rhizobia. Our research findings showing that new strains of rhizobium can increase yields in the field of common bean, cowpea, chickpea and (now also some evidence) groundnut, were met with great interest.

Photo: Fred Kanampiu, Theresa Ampadu-Boakye, Bernard Vanlauwe, Ken Giller saying goodbye to Charlene McKoin and Kristina Muller at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, May 26th 2016

Vipula Shukla, senior program officer, who was heavily involved with the discussions around the second phase of N2Africa said "the N2Africa approach is one that other projects should adopt!" It was a superb opportunity to present recent advances in our work through N2Africa and to explore how we can strengthen links with other initiatives funded by the foundation. Many thanks indeed to Charlene for the invitation to showcase our work to the foundation. I hope you have also experienced the positive vibes one gains form such positive interactions. We all left Seattle with new energy and enthusiasm to continue our work with N2Africa.

This Podcaster contains a rich collection of contributions. Louise Sperling, who was on the N2Africa Advisory Committee during our first phase, shares her ideas on ‘last mile’ delivery of new legume varieties to farmers. In addition to updates from N2Africa in Kenya and Zimbabwe, we have news on the Legume Alliance in Tanzania – from George Odour on our collaboration with the African Soil Health Consortium – and on a new project funded through the DFID ‘SAIRLA’ programme to extend the use of multi-media communications in Ghana and Tanzania. Astrid Mastenbroek and Kawuma Christine Menya of the Integrated Seed Sector Development project share ideas on how Quality Declared Seed can help to overcome the challenges of poor quality seed which have been painfully experienced by N2Africa in Uganda. The increasing spread of AflasafeTM to combat aflatoxin in groundnut is highlighted from Tanzania, together with announcements of new reports and conferences.

This is a busy time across the N2Africa countries, so we wish everyone all success with their work. As we’re just about to go to press with this issue, we heard that Dr Amaral Chibeba from Mozambique has been awarded his PhD in Brazil. Congratulations to both Amaral – our first N2Africa PhD graduate – and his supervisors Mariangela Hungria and Steve Boahen. We’ll bring you more details on Amaral’s PhD in the next Podcaster.

Please do share your news with us. If you feel that the work in your country is under-represented in the Podcaster then we rely on you to change this. We are looking forward to receive your contributions!

Ken Giller