Back to News

Vector and Virus Diagnostics training in Kenya

This week, as part of a joint programme co-delivered by Biosciences for Africa at the B4A-ILRI Hub, CONNECTED is training 21 plant scientists from 11 countries in ‘Vector and Virus Diagnostics’.

The five-day course takes place in Nairobi, Kenya and gives participants specialist knowledge enabling them to identify which virus is devastating a plant, and which insect (vector) is carrying it.  

Most attendees are representatives of their country’s National Agricultural Research Institute or System (NARS), governmental organisations which conduct research to improve agriculture.

VVD Kenya course programme

The idea is that each delegate brings this learning back to their institute and trains further plant scientists, spreading the knowledge across several countries. The initial Vector and Virus Diagnostics course will be followed by a second train-the-trainer course in March.

Recognising CONNECTED’s strong track record in training, B4A-ILRI approached the Network to co-deliver the course, which is taught by plant virology experts from both the UK and Kenya.

This training programme aims to impact the agricultural policy and practice of several African countries, contributing to our overall aims of tackling insect-spread diseases

Professor Neil Boonham, based at Newcastle University, is a Director of CONNECTED and helped develop and deliver the course. He says: 

“Meeting delegates from so many countries and sharing knowledge and experience is such a joy, as is working with the team at B4A-ILRI. This course is all about improving efficiency in diagnosing plant diseases and identifying their vectors, equipping participants with skills that they can take home and apply to the crops they are working on in their own institutes.”

The development of this course and its training materials represents a collaboration between Newcastle University, the University of Bristol and Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich (all UK) and with B4A-ILRI Hub (Kenya) to design the programme. Alongside Professor Neil Boonham, Dr Sophie Bouvaine and Dr Gonçalo Silva from the Natural Resources Institute developed and delivered the training.

This work is one of many projects funded by a £500K grant awarded to CONNECTED by UKRI International in 2022, as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

All the resources and training materials will be made freely available to our members following the course.