Frequently asked questions

The following questions are frequently asked by potential or current members, users and contributors. If your questions are not answered here, use the form to submit your own.

I am a member and am interested in some components offered by EiB, but not others. How can I do this?

Systematically establishing and discussing best practices among members will allow individual members to identify gaps and new ambitions, or identify where they are indeed among the leaders in implementing best practices. The Platform will rely and capitalize on the give-and-take of all members and work in a collaborative manner.

What is the purpose of providing standardized information about product profiles, stage gate implementation, genetic gains assessment, breeding schemes, genomics, phenotyping and bioinformatics tools used?

This serves a number of purposes. Firstly, to establish a benchmark from which future improvements can be made. Secondly, through the community of practice, other members will be able to learn from one another and will be exposed to novel ways of operating as this information is shared between members. Thirdly, this information will help EiB to identify how the Platform may best serve any given member. Finally, it is also an important input to joint funding proposals to bring greater resources to member teams.

Why is it important to provide feedback to EiB about impediments to implementing any components of the breeding program improvement process?

Best practices are rarely developed through the experience or wisdom of any one person, but are often the result of collaborative feedback and troubleshooting efforts. Issues and bottlenecks encountered by one team are likely to be encountered by others; the shared learning from analysis of “mistakes” provides an invaluable opportunity for the breeding community to implement interventions in a timely manner. Tackling bottlenecks together will allow us to arrive at better solutions in a faster and more effective manner; mistakes are only mistakes if we cannot dissect them and implement positive change in response.

Our program already has an effective process to routinely assess rates of genetic gains. Will we need to modify what we are already doing?

In the course of working with other members, you may discover the benefits and drawbacks of your approach. As a result, you may want to implement changes or otherwise act as “a leader in the field” from whom the broader community can learn. EiB capitalizes on the joint definition of best practices that individual breeding teams would want to implement in their own endeavor to strive toward excellence.

Genotyping is a core component of EiB, but our breeding program is small and there are no (or limited) useful marker trait linked associations currently identified. Will we need to implement markers into the program to remain a member?

EiB works with you to optimize your breeding program at any given level of resources. If the cost-benefit analysis does not support the use of markers, then the best practice for this component is to not use markers in the program. The same logic applies to all the core components. The consideration and addressing of each core area of focus does not necessarily imply that changes in that area are needed.

Our program uses a database to assist breeding data management that is not supported by EiB. Will we need to change?

Provided the database you are using is sufficient for your needs you will not need to change. We want members and users to adopt systems according to their own individual benefit. Principally, EiB will invest in developing specific bioinformatics tools and functionalities that are most in-demand by members. In addition, EiB supports the development of an interface (a breeding application programming interface, BrAPI) that allows bioinformatics tools to be made intercompatible. By becoming BrAPI-compatible, systems that are not directly supported by EiB can be of enhanced utility.

What resources can EiB provide to achieve changes in any of the areas of focus?

EiB will provide access to targeted training, workshops, consultation and mentoring for members. Through EiB, members will benefit from greater access to better software that is developed, funded or co-funded by CGIAR-affiliated projects (e.g., BMS, B4R, GOBII, Cassava Base, etc.). EiB will provide pilot access to prioritized tools and services, in particular to lower-cost genotyping and mechanization/automation options. EiB aims to provide access to lower-cost consumables (e.g., chemicals, marker plates, etc.), services (e.g., genotyping, phenotyping, near infrared reflectance spectroscopy, chemical composition analysis, etc.), machinery and equipment by brokering deals and utilizing economies of scale across member breeding programs. The costs of routine breeding activities, as well as new breeding activities, will continue to be covered by member programs and not by EiB. EiB will support proposal development to overcome joint bottlenecks. Collaboration with EiB will help to make the targets, progress, benefits, and bottlenecks of breeding programs targeting the developing world more transparent, and drive new funding to address joint bottlenecks (e.g., automation and mechanization). The information, shared knowledge and knowhow of the EiB community is a resource available to all members, while some of these resources will be available to contributors and other users.

I am interested in being involved with EiB and being a member but, despite being eligible for sponsorship, I’m concerned my program doesn´t have the resources required. What resources might I be expected to contribute?

Sponsored members can expect their contribution to be limited to the time that it takes to:
1.Communicate their current (and future) status in each of the seven core areas of focus and personal ambitions for change (also see Q2).
2.Learn and implement new ways of operating as part of achieving best breeding practices. By lowering the transaction costs to learn and implement new practices, this will be time well spent.
3.Contribute organically to the community of practice, in which members collectively assist one another to achieve an improved way of operating. It is envisioned that these will be synergistic interactions in which each member, in general, receives more from the interaction, and by being a part of the process, than they are having to contribute.

I would love to take on some of the ambitions being addressed by EiB (such as genomic selection as part of better targeted genotypic data for example), but I cannot see how I could take something like this on with current resources?

The EiB is committed to assisting members achieve the highest possible rate of genetic gain for the time and resource investment. If a particular technology or methodology is not able to achieve this then it is not recommended. However, if a particular technology or methodology is able to achieve this, then, as with any evolutionary change to the breeding process, working with EiB will reveal how resources may be reallocated to afford the technology or methodology in question to achieve a higher rate of genetic gain.