The Founding Director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), Professor Eric Y. Danquah has called on African plant breeders to embrace new breeding technologies, develop climate-smart solutions, as well as equip farmers with knowledge and tools to enhance food production on the continent.
He said it is imperative that the African plant breeders push further the boundaries of scientific research, collaboration, and innovation to empower the continent to realise her agricultural potentials to ensure food security on the continent.
Delivering his welcome address at a 3-day celebration of the WACCI's 16th anniversary and alumni homecoming conference at the University of Ghana, Legon Wednesday, Prof Eric Danquah said WACCI is focused at training African plant breeders to improve African crops under local climate conditions.
WACCI was established on March 12, 2008 with an initial funding from the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), as a collaborative partnership between the University of Ghana and Cornell University, USA with a goal to train the best generation of West African plant breeders at the PhD levels.
WACCI over the years has dedicated the past decade to producing cutting-urge research that addresses the continent's food security challenges.
Currently, WACCI has 105 PhDs and 40 MPhil graduates who are at the forefront of the battle against food and nutrition insecurity in 15 African countries.
Addressing the media on the sidelines of the celebration, Prof Eric Danquah said WACCI over the years had researched into crops and had developed some robust food crops for Ghanaian farmers.
Three (3) hybrids maize varieties which are resilient, he said had been introduced to farmers but unfortunately 85 percent of Ghanaian farmers are still using the old seedlings which are prone to infestation.
"In fact, our varieties are such robust that if you use them in the northern sector in Ghana you can't get less than 6 tons per hectare. Meanwhile some farmers don't get even one ton per hectare of maize in their fields," he asserted
Prof Eric Danquah emphasised that unlike their varieties, farmers are unable to harvest 9 tons per hectare of maize, a situation that would not help the country address her food challenges.
To mark the milestone, the Centre has outlined the 3-day program to recognise and honour the exceptional contribution of WACCI alumni to address food and nutrition insecurity in 20 African countries.