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University of Ghana releases three new WACCI hybrid maize varieties

By
Iddi Yire, GNA
     

Accra, July 3, GNA –
The National Variety Release and Registration Committee of the Ministry of Food
and Agriculture has approved and recommended three new WACCI hybrid maize
varieties to be released onto the market for cultivation and consumption.

The varieties, which
are now waiting to be gazetted by the National Seed Council, were developed by
the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana,
following eight years of extensive research and on-farm trials at Legon, Wenchi
and Tamale; which represent the three main major agro-ecological zones in
Ghana.

The initial funding
for the project was from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
and later by Scaling Seeds and Technology Programme (SSTP) of AGRA.

The three new WACCI
hybrid maize varieties are WACCI-M-1205, WACCI-M-1210 and WACCI-M-1218.

These hybrids are the
first ever hybrid maize seeds to be produced by a university in the history of
Ghana.

Mr Seth Osei-Akoto,
the Chairman of the NVRRC, made the announcement of the approval and
recommendation of the new WACCI maize hybrids in Accra at the University of
Ghana, Legon, after the Committee’s final validation meeting.

These white maize
hybrids have yielded above nine tonnes per hectare in regions where moisture
stress was not a problem.

Areas like the Coastal
Savanna and the transitional zones were ideal for maximum productivity of these
hybrids.

WACCI-M-1218 is early
maturing, flowering in about 45-50 days after planting and matures in about
80-85 days after planting, whereas WACCI-M-1205 and WACCI-1210 were high
yielding and mature between 90-95 days after planting.

The WACCI hybrid maize
research team comprises Prof. Eric Y. Danquah, Founding Director of WACCI,
Prof. Pangirayi B. Tongoona, Dr Beatrice E. Ifie, Dr Daniel K. Dzidzienyo, Dr
John S. Y. Eleblu, Dr Agyemang Danquah, and Mr Amos R. Azinumuzu.

Mr Osei-Akoto, in an
interview with the Ghana News Agency, praised WACCI for the innovation and
further urged the Centre to put up a promotion and marketing strategy to ensure
that the seeds reached the average farmers in the country for cultivation.

Mr Osei-Akoto, who is
also the Acting Director for Crop Services Directorate, MoFA, said the nation’s
challenge was how to get improved seed varieties for farmers adding that the
NVRRC was looking for varieties that were high yielding, which could be
promoted for the benefits of farmers in the country.

Prof Danquah expressed
gratitude to his team of staff for the great feat chalked adding; “I am
very excited. Today is a very important day in the life of WACCI; this is the
first time that a university in this country would be making such huge
contributions to our development by releasing maize hybrids to farmers.

“And these are
not ordinary hybrids. These are hybrids which even under farmers’ conditions
are giving us yields higher than all of the varieties that they have access
to.”

He said: “The sky
is our limit; we are looking for funds to scale-up this breeding project. And
if government were to support us, we believe that we can even release better
varieties than these in the near future. Of course, we need an ambitious plan
to multiply seeds.”

“We want to make
this University the hub for seed multiplication,” in order to get foundation
seeds before they got to the farmers, he said.

Prof. Danquah said
quality improved seeds were the bedrock of government’s policy of
“Planting for Food and Jobs”.

He said the hunt for
quality seed should continue unabated stating that; “And we have put all
our efforts into working hard so that we put back smiles on the faces of
farmers”.

Prof Danquah said:
“We believe that it is only quality research underpinned by science and
innovation that can take Ghana forward,” and expressed the hope that

the Government would
support the research to improve the food security of the country.

Dr Robert Agyeibi
Asuboah, the Acting Executive Director of Grains and Legumes Development Board,
MoFA, commended the University of Ghana for being the first university in the
country to produce hybrid varieties of maize.

He said maize is the
main staple food of the country and, therefore, research institutions and the
universities must take its research very seriously.   

Prof Tongoona said the
release of those new hybrids would increase yields, farmer’s livelihoods and
the local seed sector in Ghana.

Madam Evelyn Anfu, the
Deputy Country Coordinator, SSTP, said the new hybrid maize varieties would go
a long way to contribute to the success of government’s “Planting for
Foods and Jobs” programme.

Mr Patrick Osofo
Apullah, the President of Seeds Producers Association of Ghana, said:
“Ghana is moving forward and, therefore, we have to move forward with high
yielding seed varieties that are climate – change friendly”.

GNA

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