More than 25 people involved in RTB-related programs and partner organizations gathered in Nigeria between 25 September and 3 October, for the first – and very successful – full team meeting for the CGIAR research program since it started last January.

(Oct 10, 2012) What better opportunity could there have been to present the program’s activities than at the International Symposium of the International Society for Tuber & Root Crops (ISTRC)? The Federal University of Agriculture in Abeokuta, Nigeria, was the perfect venue in which to engage with stakeholders working on roots and tubers, and an entire morning session was dedicated to the RTB research program during which the group’s science leaders presented the program’s seven themes to hundreds of participants.

But you also have to make the most of having the full RTB team from several countries gathered in the same place, especially when some of them had never met before and had only been in touch via email or Skype! After nine months of work in distinct focus areas around the world, and just after the publication of the mid-year report, all were also able to sit and reflect together about what has been done and how things have been conducted before taking further steps as a group. The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), a participating center, graciously opened its headquarters to the team for a weekend’s worth of discussions regarding the program’s achievements so far and what steps to be taken next, with inputs provided by partners including the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD) and the Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) from France. With a concentration on the new cross center crop work organized by themes, the discussions were fruitful and lively; a recurring bottom line focusing on the need to improve our internal communications tools and to work even closer together as a team.

Morning presentation at FUNAAB

“We definitely should not underestimate the importance of face-to-face meetings!”, said CIP’s Bettina Heider. “The RTB meeting was intense, full of scientific information and we made a lot of progress in the planning and implementation process. It also gave room for very positive networking and interactions with the CGIAR Consortium and partners. So all in all, for me the meeting was a real success”.

Genomics meeting

The weekend was followed by meetings on genomics that attracted other participants. What’s next? In the coming months a series of workshops will lead the different groups to focus on their work areas. Stay tuned!

Text and photos by Véronique Durroux-Malpartida