The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) of the University of Ghana, will host the maiden edition of the African Plant Breeders Association (APBA) conference from October 23 - 25. Professor Eric Y. Danquah, the Founding Director, WACCI, said plant scientists from Africa and the world over were expected to participate in this maiden Conference for conversations on important issues aimed at the establishment of partnerships needed to work towards meeting Sustainable Development Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
Prof. Eric Danquah
Prof Danquah, who doubles as the Interim President of APBA, said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the sideline of the graduation of the University of Ghana; during which WACCI’s 15 PhD students in Plant Breeding and seven Master of Philosophy (MPhil) students in Seed Science and Technology graduated. This brings to 81 and 14 students in PhD Plant Breeding and Seed Science and Technology respectively who have graduated out of the WACCI programme since its inception in 2007. The 15 PhD students comprise four females and 11 males from seven countries including: Ghana, South Sudan, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Togo, and Uganda. This year’s graduating class of the MPhil programme includes two females and five males from three countries - Ghana, Mali, and Senegal.
The graduating students were sponsored under the following projects and organisations: the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme, Intra-ACP, USAID, Purdue - Sorghum and Millet Innovation Lab, Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, the DAAD-Germany, African Union-European Union project and the World Bank. WACCI runs one of the largest PhD programmes in Plant Breeding globally. Prof Danquah said WACCI was calling on public and private institutions concerned about Africa’s food future to contribute to and support the Centre to transform into a world class research-intensive institution for the transformation of Agriculture in Ghana and beyond He said WACCI’s graduates have become game changers in many breeding programmes in the sub-region and would be the cadres who would impact food and nutrition security in Africa in the decades ahead.
“Africa is changing, bringing new challenges that must be addressed if we are to live in a world without hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. As a major step to overcoming the challenges that resource poor farmers face in Africa, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) provided seed funds for the establishment of the WACCI as a semi-autonomous institution in the University of Ghana in 2007,” he said. “Today, WACCI has evolved into the leading World Bank Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE) for postgraduate education in Plant Breeding on the continent. Funded through a financial agreement between the Government of Ghana and the International Development Association, the ACE project aims to improve the quality of postgraduate education in selected universities through regional specialisation and collaboration.” Speaking to the GNA, three of the WACCI PhD graduates - Dr Leander Dede Melomey of Ghana; Dr Saba Baba Mohammed of Nigeria and Dr Elisabeth Diatta of Senegal, expressed their gratitude to God, their sponsors and the WACCI for supporting them to achieve their goal. The trio promised to use the knowledge and skills they had acquired at the University of Ghana to help ensure food and nutrition security in Africa.
Dr Melomey, whose research work centred on tomato, dubbed “Development of High Yielding Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) Lines with Resistance to Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Disease (TYLCD)|”, said tomato was a very important vegetable crop in Ghana; stating that her research was very critical to finding a lasting solution to the tomato yellow leaf curl disease in the country.