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Issue 76 – December 2014

GCP News
Issue 76 – 19th December 2014

Season's greetings to the GCP community!
We wish you the best for the festive season, including a Merry Christmas to those who observe it or simply celebrate its spirit, and a very happy New Year to all.



Issue 75 – December 2014

GCP News
Issue 75 – 11th December 2014

Even as GCP draws to its close this month, we still have plenty of GCP News for you. We start with a potpourri of fresh treats in video, report, blog and presentation form, as we skip from cassava to soils to capacity building – and don’t miss our Next Generation Genomics conference call! There’s news from the Integrated Breeding Platform too, as it prepares to spread its wings into the post-GCP future with a new Board for Phase II – plus some exciting revamps. Finally, enjoy our communications roundup of all you might have missed in a busy few weeks: puzzles for your grey cells, strange smells, ancient dinosaurs and a new face. Intrigued? Read on and all will be revealed!
News and calls
130E Okogbenin1. Quench your cassava curiosity with our latest videos: Q&A on cassava science in Africa
Recently crowned cassava (see item 10 below) is our reigning Queen of the Screen, with her current consort Emmanuel Okogbenin of Nigeria keen to show her off in our newest video series. In seven instalments, he walks us through the importance of cassava and why it is "the choice crop for food security" in Africa; the unique challenges to cassava breeding and ways these are being overcome; recent successes and breakthroughs in research; threats to cassava production; and the huge potential and promises of cassava in and for Africa. More
130AR13sq2. Annual Report 2013: views of the year and windows on the GCP world
Our 2013 Annual Report is now available to read online, so why not take a scenic tour of the year? As in 2012, the report was produced in sections. We recommend starting with the Overview for a ‘view from the (mountain) top’ – highlights of this reader-friendly digest include GCP’s Final External Review, the release of the pioneer Breeding Management System (version 1), selected research achievements, and a peek into the post-GCP future. Then set off into the GCP landscape with individual reports on each of our Research Initiatives, as well as Capacity Building and the Integrated Breeding Platform (IBP). More
130Almaize3. GCP's Sunset Blog: looking up at sunset skies and down to radically reinvented roots for sour soils
For more incredible views, stop off at our brand-new Sunset Blog and stay to watch as the sun goes down. We are pleased to announce that our first post, on the Comparative Genomics Research Initiative, is hot off the press and already making a splash via social media. If you haven't yet seen it, check it out for a thrilling tale of acid soils, sister genes, and cross-continental cooperation – published just in time for World Soil Day (see item 12 below). It is only the first of our rich crop of the most captivating stories from ten years of GCP, as told by our partners, so stay tuned as GCP winds down over the coming weeks and months. More sweet joyful treats are coming your way soon, full of digestible wisdom, fiery GCP spirit and glimpses of a GCP-flavoured future as the Programme exits the stage. More
130-ib-myc-sq4. Finish line reached as IB–MYC marathon concludes and new breed of breeders takes flight
The Integrated Breeding Multiyear Course (IB–MYC) recently reached its close after three intensive years. The final session ran from 3rd to 14th November 2014, and as always was hosted by our partners IAMZ–CIHEAM (the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza, Spain). By taking a risk and investing in long-term in-depth training, GCP has created a powerful model for capacity building with profound impact. We congratulate all who have been part of IB–MYC, and look forward to what this "new variety of breeders" will do next! More
130capbuildmap5. Gain or Drain? GCP Director has some questions – and some answers – on capacity building
While we're on the theme, don't miss our latest presentation on SlideShare, with the provocative title of 'Capacity Building: Gain or Drain?' You will find a potpourri of insights into meaningful capacity building, the IB–MYC model, Integrated Breeding Platform and Breeding Management System, plus the issue of brain drain. Created by GCP Director Jean-Marcel Ribaut, Information Manager Fred Okono and Capacity Building Leader Ndeye Ndack Diop, the presentation was given by Jean-Marcel at the recent Tropical Soybean for Development Workshop. More
genconfsq6. This is the future calling: Next Generation Genomics and Integrated Breeding 2015
You are invited to the 5th International Conference on Next Generation Genomics and Integrated Breeding for Crop Improvement, sponsored by GCP and organised by our partner and friend Rajeev K Varshney, to be held at ICRISAT, Greater Hyderabad, India during 18–20 February 2015. It promises to be an idea-sharing feast of great interest to many of our readers – participants already include GCP Director Jean-Marcel Ribaut among other familiar faces. More
News from IBP
130 IBP Board7. "Off to an excellent start:" IBP ready for the future with new Board on board
The Integrated Breeding Platform (IBP) is ready for its next phase, with a new Board now in office following its first meeting during 2–3 December. The dream team consists of: Dave Hoisington (Chair), Gary Cornelius (Vice-Chair), Tabare Abadie, Kanyawim Kirtikara, Kevin Pixley, and Jean-Marcel Ribaut (IBP Director). The positions of Secretary and Treasurer have been combined and will be held by a non-voting member, Shawn Sullivan. Watch this space for more on IBP Phase II, and meanwhile visit the IBP website to meet the Board members and get a flavour for their expertise. More
130IBPweb8. IBP website: redesigned, reorganised and ready for your visit
IBP recently unveiled its new website, not only with a new visual look, but also with a significantly reorganised structure, though you will still find all the same great tools and services on offer. Take a tour to discover your old favourites – and some new features too, such as: a clickable world map to easily find assistance in your region; better integration of products and services for direct access from the site; a new training section with tutorials and e-learning materials; and a chat functionality to interact with IBP staff and other site users – so drop us a line and let us know what you think! More
130crosses9. Breeding Management System (BMS) version 3.0: improvements continue with latest release
As we promised in issue 71 of GCP News, September saw the release of version 3.0 of IBP's Breeding Management System (BMS), with both significant improvements to core applications and exciting new functionalities. Breeders will now find BMS easier and more efficient to use, for example with the Trial Manager, List Manager and Nursery Manager all seamlessly streamlined in the same browser-based interface, and completely redesigned FieldBook tools. It is also now faster at saving and retrieving data. More
Communications roundup
130oktoberfestSQ10. Big issues for packed Oktoberfest: women, food, poverty and more
The acme of our busy agricultural Oktoberfest was World Food Week, 12–19 October 2014. Highlights included our coronation of cassava as the Queen of Crops on the International Day of Rural Women, and a challenge for those little grey cells in celebration of World Food Day, with our crop quiz. For the full story (and a deliciously visual overview), "begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end" on Storify. It's long, but it's sweet, so don't you be (story) terrified! More
130cuddlingsq11. Secret missions and transparent positions: access all areas for Open Access Week
Our unconventional commemoration of this year's Open Access Week, 20–26 October 2014, took us on a strange and smelly journey from the lab to the latrine and back again. We delved deep to explore openness and transparency, and the good things that emerge when we leave shame and secrecy behind. And in particular, we celebrated the latest GCP open-access publication, and all our open-access authors. More
130soilhands12. All in the family: comparative genomics the star on World Soil Day
The 5th of December 2014 was World Soil Day – and saw an early kick off of 2015 as the International Year of Soils. We marked the occasion with a celebration of our Comparative Genomics Research Initiative, GCP's answer to the problem of acid soils, which affect almost half of all arable land worldwide. Read on to discover how family relationships between crops – plus modern scientific tools to reveal the genes they share – are helping breeders to provide farmers with acid-beating crop varieties. And what does Triceratops have to do with it? More
130Eloise13. Eloise Phipps takes the baton for GCP communications' final lap
Eloise Phipps has been on board with the GCP communications team since the end of September, taking over the role of Communications Assistant and supporting in the winding down of the Programme. From January, following GCP's official close, she will be taking over all remaining communications activities, including GCP's legacy stories (to be published on the Sunset Blog – see item 3 above). You are welcome to get in touch with her by emailMore on Eloise

Issue 73 – October 2014

GCP News
Issue 73 – 22nd October 2014

Autumn greetings from Mexico to all the GCP community! Here at headquarters we have been battling thunderstorms, but nothing can dampen our spirits as we continue our October festivities with yet another special edition of GCP News. Our focus is in Asia, as we offer our greetings for Diwali, the Hindu ‘Festival of Lights’. We share an invitation to India for an exciting conference on genomics and integrated breeding, and shine some metaphorical light as we remember seven years of the Tropical Legumes Project and offer a sneak preview of our Open Access Week coverage.

oktoberfestSQWe began our Agricultural Oktoberfest in Asia, with our General Research Meeting in Thailand. After exuberantly honouring the International Day of Rural Women, celebrating World Food Day, and marking the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, all in our last newsletter, we joyfully return to Asia for Diwali and a celebration of light.

genconfsqSome of our readers may be interested in literally travelling to Asia, though they will be a little late for Diwali. The 5th International Conference on Next Generation Genomics and Integrated Breeding for Crop Improvement, which will be held at ICRISAT in India during 18-20 February 2015, promises to be of great interest to many in the GCP community. The list of speakers and participants is already rich in familiar names, including GCP Director Jean-Marcel Ribaut, and the conference is being organised by our longstanding partner and friend Rajeev K Varshney. More

LegumesMeanwhile, here at GCP we’re basking in the bright light of the Tropical Legumes Project – with another link to India, as chickpeas and groundnuts are both important Indian crops and foods. We recall the seven years since legumes stepped into the limelight and consider the road ahead.

OAsqWe’re also shedding some light of learning as we celebrate Open Access Week, aptly themed ‘Generation Open’, and a thrilling new publication on cassava genome sequences. In this late addition to the October programme, look out very soon for our thoughts on openness and the importance of sharing research results (and a smelly surprise!).

So as the nights begin to get longer, the days colder and the fields barer here in the northern hemisphere, we wish you a wealth of light, knowledge and friendship.

For our Hindu readers who observe Diwali, the ‘Festival of Lights’, and all those with a place in their hearts for a little extra light, knowledge and hope, the card below is for you in the spirit of the season.


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Issue 74 – October 2014

GCP News
Issue 74 – 31st October 2014

GCP is dead, long live GCP!

Ghostly greetings to all the GCP community! We're marking the Day of the Dead in joyous fashion at GCP's Mexico headquarters, with sweet skulls and paper skeletons – but also with thoughts on GCP's legacy and the many ways its spirit will live on in all of us. Keep reading for a sneak preview of our new blog, where we'll be gathering a cornucopia of treats (and just a few tricks) in the form of our sunset stories: a fitting finale for our Agricultural Oktoberfest!

Naturally enough, our thoughts at GCP are turning to endings, as the Programme steadily progresses towards its planned close in December 2014.

The people of Mexico have long understood that death doesn't have to be sad. On the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos), celebrated on and around the 2nd of November, Mexicans celebrate the lives of those who have passed on, and invite their spirits back home to pass the night with them. Fruits, sugary ‘bread of the dead’ (pan de muerto), and favourite foods are offered on temporary altars (ofrendas) to departed loved ones, while trails of petals and the powerful scent of Mexican marigolds help guide them home. Meanwhile, the concept of the memento mori is taken to its most colourful extreme with decorations of bright, grinning paper skeletons, and sugar skulls bearing the names of both the living and the dead in eternal unison.


Our 2014 ofrenda at GCP's Mexico headquarters, looking bigger and more beautiful than ever.


Sweet skulls made of amaranth on this year's ofrenda. For more highlights, enjoy a virtual tour on flickr - and take a trip back in time to previous years.

In the same way, even as we wind the Programme down, we are celebrating all that GCP has achieved and reflecting on all that we have learnt – lessons that we will carry forward in our professional lives long after the curtain comes down here at headquarters.

just-sunset-sq-182With this in mind, we offer you a sneak preview of our brand-new Sunset Blog (caution: still under construction, so bricks and mortar flying about!), in the vivid orange and gold of harvest season. Here, we will be gathering a rich crop of our most captivating stories from ten years of GCP, as told by our partners. These will be sweet joyful treats, full of digestible wisdom and infused with fiery GCP spirit and a GCP-flavoured future. And let’s not forget: spirit aside, a strand of GCP will carry on in very definite form in our Integrated Breeding Platform (IBP) – a great illustration of the Mexican belief that the dead and the living are never far apart.

(And for an unexpected bit of connectedness, why not revisit some of our videos, such as our series on bean breeding, our series on the complicated personality of groundnut, or our chat with our Board Chair, Andrew Bennett? Keep your ears open for the music, which is by Mexican group Calaveras de Azucar – meaning 'Sugar Skulls'!)

This edition of GCP News brings our Agricultural Oktoberfest to a close, but stay tuned, as we will have a plentiful feast of photos, presentations, publications and more stories to offer you in next few days and weeks.

For all those celebrating over the next few days, the card below is for you in the spirit of the season.


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Issue 72 – October 2014

GCP News
Issue 70 – 15th October 2014

This bumper harvest edition of GCP News celebrates a cluster of exciting days falling this week, with a feast of delights to stimulate any palate. We love challenges here at the Generation Challenge Programme, so dust off your thinking cap for our special crop quiz in celebration of World Food Day. For the International Day of Rural Women, we offer a tribute to queenly cassava, while for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we reflect on poverty, crop breeding, and our impact. If all this still leaves you hungry for more, you’re in luck: enjoy a selection of extra titbits from our friends and partners, and a pair of bonus quizzes too!
Celebrations from GCP
cassava-hands-news1. The International Day of Rural Women (October 15th)
Here at GCP we’re celebrating the International Day of Rural Women in regal style, with a special look at cassava. Find out why cassava is a 'women’s crop', what happens when the underdog comes out on top, and why we’re shouting “Long live Queen Cassava!” More

WFDquiz12. World Food Day (October 16th)
We know you love a (Generation) Challenge, so challenge yourself – and your friends and family – with our crop identification quiz in honour of World Food Day. Some surprises about the foods we eat every day are in store. More

boys-football-square-news3. The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17th)
We reflect on child malnutrition as an indicator of poverty, how crop breeding can contribute to poverty eradication, and how to maximise and measure our impact. Plus, we accept an invitation in photo form to go out to play with the children we are working for. More

International Day of Rural Women celebrations from our friends
maize-nepal4. MAIZE on gender transformative approaches in Nepal
The MAIZE CGIAR Research Program marks International Day of Rural Women with a look into the power of gender transformative approaches in engaging women and other disadvantaged groups in the Hill Maize Research Project in Nepal. More

worldfish-women5. A net of multimedia delight woven by WorldFish
Watch their stunning video on gender equality, agriculture, and women’s empowerment, and – in case you still believed in that old divide between Art and Science – find out how theatre workshops are helping women fish retailers in Egypt. More
World Food Day celebrations from our friends
Rajaram-Photo6. 2014 World Food Prize goes to Sanjaya Rajaram
Our hosts and friends at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) have much to be proud about as wheat breeder Sanjaya Rajaram is awarded this year’s World Food Prize in recognition of his work in developing an astounding 480 wheat varieties, released in 51 countries to the benefit of both small- and large-scale farmers around the world. More here and here
Bram-Govaerts7. Bram Govaerts receives the 2014 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application
In an impressive double whammy for CIMMYT, Bram Govaerts, conservation agriculture leader and actor upon Borlaug’s exhortation to “take it to the farmer”, now takes home this year’s Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application. More herehere and here
infographic8. A healthy helping of facts and figures from WHEAT
For a crash course in wheat, you couldn't do better than this packed infographic from the busy folks at CIMMYT and the WHEAT CGIAR Research Program. More
worldfish-wfd9. More multimedia marvels from Worldfish
Are you ready for your second fish course? Let Worldfish take you on a tour of a Climate Smart Farm in Bangladesh, and enjoy some brain food in the form of fish-filled infographics. More
ilri10. Happy 40th birthday, ILRI!
Our friends at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are celebrating their 40th birthday this year. They are marking this happy anniversary with a roundtable event and other participation in the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium – watch their news blog for details. More
oil-palm11. A new page on palm oil from CIFOR
Now for a return to the trees… the folks at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) are unafraid to court controversy, and are celebrating World Food Day by releasing a newly translated book on palm oil, arguing that it does have the potential to be a sustainable crop. More
farming-first12. Interactive info on Africa’s agricultural potential from Farming First
This beautiful interactive graphic will knock your socks off. Explore the challenges to and potential of African agriculture – a lovely tool to share with non-experts, and eye candy for the experts too. More
hunger-index13. Putting numbers on hunger with the 2014 Global Hunger Index
A little ahead of World Food Day but still highly pertinent, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe recently published the 2014 Global Hunger Index, a multidimensional measure of national, regional, and global hunger that this year focuses on hidden hunger, or micronutrient deficiency. Download the report here and interact with the data here
…And a bonus
wheat-square14. A quiz for the wheat whizzes...
If you’re still feeling quizzical, test your wheat knowledge with this peck of puzzlers passed along to us by CIMMYT. More
borlaug-square15. …and one for the Borlaug buffs
Finally, for the real quiz addicts, some tricky questions on the life and times of Norman Borlaug, Nobel laureate and father of the World Food Prize. A fitting footer to this special edition! More

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