Reaping the Benefit of the Visiting Scholar Program of the Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project: Training on R Statistical Software


February 23, 2020 - Balaraba Sule

One of the three principal objectives of the Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project (NAPP) is strengthening Nigerian capacity for greater evidence-based policy processes in agriculture. The focus is on increasing the ability of Nigerian analysts to undertake and broadly disseminate relevant evidence-based policy analysis. To do so, it is essential for researchers to acquire the skills to perform vigorous data analysis. To this end, a training on agricultural data analysis using R statistical software was organized for university lecturers by NAPP from Monday 17th to 21st of February 2020. Who better to train than those mandated to teach young researchers the necessary skills for empiricalanalysis?

R is an open source (free) programming software used for statistical modelling and analysis. Its expandability allows developers to easily write their own software and distribute it in the form of an add-on package. Its major advantages are that it is free and can be customized. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University (IBBU) Lapai hosted the R training. It was a typical illustration of the benefits of NAPP’s operational strategy: “Training one to train others”. The facilitators were: Dr. Charles Olumba, Mrs. Hephzibah Obekpa and Mrs. Balaraba Sule (all three were project scholars, trained at Michigan State University under the NAPP Visiting Scholar Program). The participants, comprising three females and twenty-two males, were from four universities: IBBU, Lapai, the Federal University of Technology Minna, the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, and the University of Ilorin in Kwara State, all in the North Central zone of Nigeria.

The 5-day training was officially opened by the Vice Chancellor, IBBU, Professor Adamu Abu Kasim. In attendance were the State Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Hon. Mohammed Baba Adamu; the Registrar, and Deputy Vice Chancellor IBBU as well as other members of the school management.

Each day, the training began with a presentation from a facilitator. This was followed by practical hands-on sessions in which participants utilized the different syntaxes they were introduced to. The training concluded with group presentations of the results of the analysis carried out by the participants using their newly acquired knowledge in R. Appreciating the need for continued interaction between the facilitators and the participants, a WhatsApp group was also formed. The platform is expected to serve as an avenue to discuss participants’ challenges and provide further assistance as they explore data analysis with their newly gained competences in R.

The training was rounded up with the presentation of certificates to the well deserving participants by the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture IBBU, Prof. A. F. Lawal. A vote of thanks was given by one of the NAPP scholars, Balaraba Sule. She thanked the participants for their enthusiasm and diligence in carrying out all tasks assigned to them and expressed the hope that the training will mark the beginning of many more collaborations between NAPP and all the universities that were represented.


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