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WACCI graduates Plant Breeding graduates

By Iddi
Yire, GNA

Accra, July 25, GNA – The West Africa Centre
for Crop Improvement (WACCI) of the University of Ghana graduated 17 PhD
candidates in plant breeding at the graduation ceremony on Friday, July 21 at
the Great Hall of the University of Ghana.

The 17 PhD students from seven African
countries were made up of nine from Francophone, and eight were from
Anglophone; of which nine were males and the rest females.

Indeed, it would be recalled that at the
2015/2016 academic year’s Congregation, the Centre also presented seven PhD
candidates. 

In five successive years, WACCI has graduated
the highest number of PhD students in the University of Ghana.

WACCI, one of the World Bank Africa Centres of
Excellence, is a partnership between the University of Ghana and Cornell
University, United States that was established in June 2007 with funding from
the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) at the University of Ghana
to train Plant Breeders in Africa working on the improvement of African crops
in local environments for farmers in Africa.

AGRA provided the initial funds for the
establishment of the Centre and provided full scholarships for 53 PhD students,
in addition to administrative support.

Its vision is to become the foremost Centre
for post-graduate training and research in crop improvement in Africa.

Professor Eric Y. Danquah, the Founding
Director of WACCI, speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the
sideline of the University of Ghana’s Congregation, congratulated the students
for their sterling performance.

He said all the graduates were returning to
their home institutions to take their PhD research to the next level and work
towards releasing improved and climate-smart varieties of staple crops for
increased productivity in farmers’ fields in seven countries in West and Central
Africa.

He said a number of strategic partnerships
with world class institutions globally such as Cornell University, University
of Illinois, the the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA),
AfricaRice, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid
Tropics (ICRISAT) and the National Agricultural Research Institutions (NARIs)
in Africa had allowed WACCI to churn out in record time, these students who
received quality plant breeding education.

“We acknowledge the financial support
from AGRA, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), World Bank, Kirkhouse Trust
and other institutions,” he said.

“Our recently launched $ 50 million
endowment fund and sustainability plan should see WACCI evolving into one of
the top-tier plant breeding education institutions globally in the next
decade,” he added.

Prof Danquah said in 10 years, the Centre had
demonstrated that working with strategic partners and taking giant strides, had
produced quality PhD graduates, who were game changers and who were making
history on the African Continent.

Dr Rufaro Madakadze, AGRA Programme Officer
in-charge of Capacity Building, lauded WACCI for its success story in training
plant breeders for Africa, as part of efforts to help address the food insecurity
problem on the continent.

She said AGRA was proud of what WACCI had been
able to achieve since its inception over the past decade in transforming the
agricultural sector in Africa.

Two of the fresh graduates Dr Adesike Oladoyin
Kolawole of Ladoke Akinlota University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State,
Nigeria and Dr Solomon Olufemi Afuape of the National Root Crop Research
Institute, Nigeria, expressed their gratitude to AGRA for funding their PhD
programme.

Dr Kolawole, who researched on improving maize
grains yield said: “I have been equipped with knowledge and skills at
WACCI.

“My teaching and data analysis skills have
improved. We were exposed to modern approaches in plant breeding as well
advances in pedagogy. So as a lecturer, I have learnt a lot of things, I can go
back and impact teaching and learning in my university. I can adequately
supervise students since I am equipped to do that now. Thanks be to
WACCI”.

Dr Afuape, who also researched on sweet
potatoes, said, the knowledge that he had gained would be used to develop new
varieties to help address the food and nutrition insecurity situation in
Africa.

GNA

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