The course was organized to equip the participants with the knowledge and skill of how to breed maize with desirable traits, such as drought tolerance, disease and insect resistance, good yield, good storability, good quality, and adaptability to other various stresses. Because technology development plays such a large role in maize breeding, the course also updated participants on the application of relevant new technologies such as marker-assisted breeding; use of transgenics in maize improvement; the application of advanced information technology tools in maize breeding; and the use of doubled haploid technology to accelerate the development of maize inbred lines. Although its focus was on maize, the course also covered some more widely applicable, commonly-used plant breeding techniques such as choosing desirable parents for breeding programs.
Also, the course participants observed the maize-breeding process firsthand when they visited the on-going CIMMYT and DR&SS drought screening trials at breeding nurseries in Chiredzi, Chisumbanje, and Mzarabani.
The course was organized and coordinated by Cosmos Magorokosho and Dan Makumbi, maize breeders for the Global Maize Program (GMP), while Mr. Ngoni Masoka, Permanent Secretary of the Zimbabwe Ministry of Agriculture, officially opened the event with a short note given by Boddupalli Prasanna, GMP director.