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Professor E. T. Blay

Associate Professor Essie T. Blay holds a B.Sc degree in Agriculture from the University of Ghana an M.Sc degree in Horticulture from the University of Hawaii and a Ph.D in Genetics and plant breeding from the University of California Davis. Prof Blay has been on the teaching staff of the Crop Science Department of University of Ghana for over 30 years. She teaches courses in Genetics Crop Production and Horticulture at both graduate and undergraduate levels and supervises student research and dissertations at both levels. Her research interest is focused on holistic improvement in crop production spanning the production of appropriate crop varieties and the use of good agricultural practices to ensure high productivity and good quality produce. She has been actively involved in the study of diversity in the land races of indigenous vegetables and tuber crops for identification of suitable germplasm for crop improvement purposes. She has bred a commercial variety of garden eggs Legon 1 and has a number of advanced breeding lines of garden eggs and tomatoes in the pipeline. She combines the use of several appropriate technologies in her crop improvement work In addition to the classical plant breeding technologies she employs interspecific hybridization and mutation breeding approaches. Prof Blay is also conversant with modern biotechnology including the use of molecular markers for study of crop diversity and for marker-assisted selection tissue culture and crop transformation. Exposure to excellent external laboratories has afforded her a wide experience in crop improvement technologies. She has worked as a visiting scientist at the Biotechnology and Molecular Genetics Laboratory of Tuskegee University for a year on Tissue Culture and Transformation of sweet potato; Calgene for over a year in genetic transformation of tomatoes University of California Davis for 3 months on use of molecular marker assisted selection in celery breeding and at CEPRAP-Davis on identification of crop solicitors for disease resistance in crops. Prof Blay has a good experience in international teaching and has been a regular member of the teaching staff for the UNU international course on tissue culture for the West Africa sub region for over a decade. She has also participated in a regional training program on land degradation and erosion of genetic diversity for research officers and policy markers as a resource person. Vision for the Centre Land races of many indigenous crops abound in West Africa most of which are at risk of erosion for a variety of reasons. This rich resource can be harnessed to help solve the perpetual food deficiency in the sub region. The thrust of this centre should be to provide a haven for training the human resource that exists in the region and equip them to utilize the knowledge and experience gained to turn out crops that will keep our food baskets filled with high quality food. The centre will also be a means of forging a South - South as well as a North - South collaboration between researchers which will be of mutual benefit for solving the food shortage problems of the humid tropics.