WACCI Building Capacity in Africa for Africa

Prof. Eric Danquah, Director of the University of Ghana’s West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) delivering  an address

Prof. Eric Danquah, Director of the University of Ghana’s West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) has said that since its establishment, WACCI has produced 23 new varieties of corn, seven new varieties of peanuts, 11 new varieties of rice and seven new varieties of sweet potato. 

In an article that was culled from the University of Georgia, Prof. Danquah said the most meaningful contribution to the future of African agriculture and food security are the 66 new doctorates in plant breeding the institution has trained in that time. 

He was speaking to a gathering at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ annual International Agriculture Day. “This collection of new varieties is the outcome of training Africans in Africa to work with African crops for Africa,” he added.

Prof. Danquah who attended graduate school in plant breeding at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom before returning to Ghana to teach and conduct research said he was continuously saddened by the fact that the brightest students that he taught at the University of Ghana would leave for graduate school and not return home to work. Losing great scientists to universities in America or Europe often meant that crops important to African farmers were not given the same attention in plant breeding programs. Scientists working in Africa are more aware of the trials faced by farmers on the continent and what kinds of seeds would do well in the African market.

Prof. Danquah knew “a green revolution for Africa” wouldn’t be possible without researchers working in Africa with easy access to African crops and African farms.

“In a number of places, you just don’t find the needed critical mass of scientists,” he said.

Without the scientific community as a bedrock, private seed companies don’t consider large investments for commercialization infrastructure, and funding agencies are less likely to award research grants, Prof. Danquah said, adding that the scientific community being created through WACCI is one of the most important catalysts for agricultural development in Africa. “What is important about our programme is that they’ve all gone back to their home institutions,” Prof. Danquah said. “We are building capacity in Africa for Africa.” 

He encouraged students and researchers at University of Georgia to visit the University of Ghana to study or collaborate. 

For more information about WACCI, visit wacci.ug.edu.gh.