The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana has held a three-day workshop from July 14 -16, 2015 at the Volta Hotel, Akosombo on the theme “Transforming WACCI into a sustainable Centre of Excellence for Training Plant Breeders and Seed Scientists for the future of food security in Africa”. The workshop brought together 35 participants from six academic units of the University of Ghana and affiliated retired academics, namely the Business School, the Departments of Botany, Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Soil Science, Crop Science, the Biotechnology Research Centre and the WACCI.
The Director of WACCI, Professor Eric Danquah who opened the workshop said that WACCI had in eight years positioned itself as a leader in plant education in Africa and increased initial investments by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from 11 million USD to about 24 million USD through strategic multi-donor partnerships. He called for the need for a transformation of WACCI into a sustainable world-class platform for training of the next generation of history makers in the area of crop improvement in Africa through strategic partnership to build capacity for the agricultural development of Africa in our lifetime.
Major documents discussed included the Review Panel Report, April 2015, A Resource Mobilization Strategy document, A Communication and Visibility Strategy paper, A Draft Strategic Plan 2018 – 2028, WACCI’s Vegetables Innovation Laboratory Strategy paper and Curricula for the PhD in Plant Breeding, the MPhil in Crop Science (Plant Breeding and Genetics option (collaboration between the Department of Crop Science, WACCI and the Illinois Plant Breeding Centre, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA through the USAID Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Laboratory) and the MPhil in Seed Science and Technology (collaboration with the Iowa Seed Centre, Iowa State University, USA).
A major outcome of the workshop was the selection of foundation students for the MPhil in Seed Science and Technology and PhD in Plant Breeding programmes under the World Bank Africa Centres of Excellence Project. In his s closing remarks, the Director of WACCI urged donors and philanthropists desirous to see real change in the agricultural development of Africa not only to consider WACCI as a worthy strategic partner, but also apprise themselves of the Executive Summary of the Review Panel report on WACCI which catalogues WACCI’s efforts to bring real change into the lives of rural women and children in Africa. Prof. Danquah noted that the aspiration of rural folk and the poor farmers is where their next meal would come from. He pledged WACCI’s commitment to quality education for transformational change in plant breeding education for the future of food security in Africa.
Other special guests at the workshop were Dr. Rita Mumm, Professor Emerita and founding Director of the Plant Breeding Centre, University of Illinois and Chairperson of the WACCI External Review Panel, 2015, Professor Kwame Offei, Pro Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Provost of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, Mr. Richard Boapea, the Director of Finance, University of Ghana and the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Professor Kwadwo Ofori.
We bring you a few of the remarks made by some of the guests at the workshop: