Japanese Ambassador Visits WACCI

Vice Chancellor Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu and Ambassador Kaoru Yoshimura in a group photograph with other University Officials

The Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Kaoru Yoshimura, has visited the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana. He was received by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, faculty and staff of WACCI.

The Director of the Centre, Prof. Eric Danquah welcomed the Japanese Ambassador to the Centre and gave a brief overview of WACCI, highlighting the 10th anniversary launch during which an endowment fund of USD50 million was launched to support the transformation of WACCI into a sustainable world class Centre for training plant breeders and seed scientists and technologists.  Prof. Danquah said that a sustainability plan which would see WACCI flourish beyond the current funded project phase was being developed and he was optimistic that WACCI would evolve into a top-tier plant breeding education globally in the next decade.

Ambassador Yoshimura, a former Minister of Agriculture of Japan, said he had read about WACCI’s achievements in the Anniversary Brochure and at the invitation of WACCI, had come to see for himself developments at the Centre, adding that he was looking forward to visiting the field to see the maize hybrids which were due for release. Ambassador Yoshimura, a lawyer by training, said he had worked closely with agriculturists in his former life as a Minister of Agriculture in Japan and was well aware of developments in the agricultural sector globally. He intimated that if Ghana were to invest in the agricultural value chain, the country would attain food and nutrition security by the year 2030 as expected by Ghana’s Agenda 2030.

Prof. Eric Danquah, Director of WACCI in a discussion with Vice Chancellor Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu and the Japanese Ambassador 

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oduro Owusu, in brief remarks thanked the Ambassador for the visit and hoped that the Japanese government would assist the School of Agriculture, similar to the assistance provided to the College of Health Sciences in the University of Ghana. The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) recently received a grant of US$21m through the Japan International Cooperation Agency to construct an Advanced Research Centre for Infectious Diseases at the NMIMR are excellent models in the Health Sciences for investments in Agriculture, the Vice-Chancellor said.

The Vice-Chancellor led the delegation to the WACCI farm where the visiting team was received by Professor Pangirayi Tongoona, a lead maize breeder at WACCI. On display at the farm were harvested ears of four promising maize hybrids, WACCI-M-1210; WACCI-M-1205; WACCI-M-1218 and WACCI-M-1508 due for release. Professor Tongoona informed the visiting team that the National Variety Release and Registration Committee was to visit for final inspection of the varieties for release and for recommendation to the National Seeds Council for Registration. He said that the commercialization of the maize hybrids will increase maize productivity in Ghana and this will in turn improve the livelihoods of Ghanaian farmers and help in the decline of the projected food insecurity/shortage in the year 2020.

Ambassador Kaoru Yoshimura said he was impressed with the maize hybrids and hoped that a strategy would be put in place to make quality hybrid seeds available to farmers for increased productivity. He said that he was delighted to see tangible outputs from the WACCI project in a short time and assured the University of his support. He commended the University for its contribution to national development.

Professor Pangirayi Tongoona welcoming the Ambassador and other University officials to the WACCI farm

Others present during the visit of the delegation were: Prof. Daniel Asiedu, Provost, College of Basic and Applied Sciences, Professor Kwadwo Ofori, Deputy Director; Prof. Godfred Bopkin, University of Ghana Business School and Ambassador of Goodwill, WACCI, Dr. Daniel Dzidzienyo, Coordinator, Anglophone Africa, WACCI,  Dr. Agyemang Danquah, Coordinator, Curriculum Development and Teaching Programmes; Dr. Beatrice E. Ife, Maize Breeder; and Dr. John S. Y. Eleblu, Coordinator of Research, Francophone Africa.