WACCI Hosts Prof. Rita Mumm

Prof. Rita Mumm and Prof. Eric Danquah

Prof. Rita Mumm, Founding Director of the Illinois Plant Breeding Centre at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA, and Education lead on the USAID programme on Soybean Innovation Laboratory (SIL), has paid a five-day visit to the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) at the University of Ghana.

Prof. Mumm held discussions with the Director of WACCI, Prof. Eric Danquah on a number of projects, in particular,  the development of a Masters Degree programme in Plant Breeding. The new programme which is supported by the USAID Soybean Innovation Laboratory will include a taught course component and internships in the United States, where students will have the opportunity to conduct research in well equipped laboratories.

On the specific issue of the USAID sponsored Soybean project, Prof. Mumm indicated that the project is using the value chain approach to ensure that beyond the creation of high-yielding Soybean  varieties, growers are also equipped with information on how to grow and process the product to bring out its nutritional content.

She commended Prof. Eric Danquah and his team, for what he called a phenomenonal job in putting together the PhD programme. She described the WACCI programme as the largest in Africa and one of the best in the world, adding that it is the kind of programme needed globally to train plant breeders who would help to meet worldwide demand for food security.

As part of her visit, Prof. Mumm delivered a two-day module on “Approaches to Key Decision Points in Crop Improvement”, to first year PhD students at WACCI.

The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), a partnership between the University of Ghana (UG) and Cornell University, USA, was established in June 2007 with funding from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to train Plant Breeders in a PhD programme at the University of Ghana. In 2008, the Centre obtained funding from the Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) to train additional students. Students on the WACCI PhD programme are from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda. The first cohort of 8 PhD students at the Centre graduated in 2013. WACCI was recently competitively selected by the World Bank as one of the Africa Centres of Excellence to receive US$8 million to train plant breeders, seed scientists and technologists. Total committed funding of the WACCI project to date is about US$25 million.


Prof. Mumm teaching first year PhD students